Library of Congress Screens Rosenwald

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Cielsa Foundation, in conjunction with the office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, hosted a screening and reception of Rosenwald at the Library of Congress on Monday, May 21, 2018.

We were very excited to have had the opportunity to continue to share the story of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and legacy of the Rosenwald Schools.

We were honored to have Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Congressman Danny Davis (IL), and Congressman G.K Butterfield (NC) share their personal stories which offered a unique perspective on the impact of Rosenwald and the Jewish American community. We were also very appreciative to have Congressman Hank Johnson (GA), whose mother attended a Rosenwald school, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) in attendance.

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Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (above)

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, the driving force behind the resolution that declared an annual Jewish American Heritage Month in May, shared her personal story of being a second generation Jewish American. She noted how incredible it is that even though her family has only been in America for two generations, she was elected to serve as Florida’s first Jewish Congresswoman. The Congresswoman also spoke of the Jewish teaching of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, which is embodied through her work and the work of Julius Rosenwald.


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Congressman Danny Davis (above)

The Rosenwald schools had great impact on Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago, who is interviewed in the film, recalled growing up in the South and hearing about the schools. Even though Congressman Danny Davis did not attend a Rosenwald school, he said that the influence of Rosenwald and the Sears organization was felt throughout his community once he moved North. The betterment Julius Rosenwald was able to provide for his community, whether by his schools or Sears catalogs, gave Davis hope and the inspiration needed to dream of something greater for himself and his community.



Congressman G.K. Butterfield (above)

Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina spoke of the impact Rosenwald had on the communities he represents. North Carolina is home to the most Rosenwald Schools of any southern state. Congressman Butterfield spoke earnestly about the Rosenwald schools where his own mother taught. He recalled attending a Rosenwald school alumni reunion in his hometown, where Viola Pittman Boone, 83, stood up and asked to recite “The Julius Rosenwald Song” that she recalled singing every morning as a young girl at her school, The Eden-Rosenwald Elementary School.

The Julius Rosenwald Song

(Composer unknown- the lyrics to this song are based on the memories of Viola Pittman Boone at age 83. She recalled that she and her 4th grade classmates sang this song each morning at the Eden-Rosenwald Elementary School and thinks it may have been composed by her teacher, Ms. Bland but cannot confirm. )

No one will ever know,

Just what his coming has been.

Because we loved him so,

It was something Heaven-send.

It was Julius Rosenwald,

Who would never let us fall.

He answered every call,

Of this dear race of ours.

 Director Aviva Kempner introduced the film and explained how hearing civil activist Julian Bond speak at Martha’s Vineyard 15 years back inspired her to make the film. She dedicated the showing to D.C. residents obtaining voting rights!


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Enter a cAudience members at Library of Congress Rosenwald Screening

We were incredibly honored and proud that during Jewish American Heritage month, we joined with both African American and Jewish elected congressional officials in the Library of Congress to celebrate Julius Rosenwald, continue Tikkun Olam and support one anothers communities.

Zora Neale Hurston’s book Barracoon: The story of the last “Black Cargo” Finally Published

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Zora Neale Hurston, Rosenwald Fellow and author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, has a book being published eight decades after it was written.

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Barracoon: The story of the last “Black Cargo” tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade. Hurston interviewed 86-year old Lewis in 1927 in Alabama and recorded his account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the trans-Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the U.S. In 1931 publishers wanted her to rewrite it in a language other than “dialect” and she refused.

The book includes a forward by author Alice Walker. Hurston earned an AA degree from Howard University in 1920, a BA from Barnard College in 1928.

One of the Rosenwald DVD Bonus Features, Rosenwald Fund Writers tells the story of African American writers like Zora Neale Hurston.

You can read more about Barracoon here:
Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’ Tells the Story of the Slave Trade’s Last Survivor

A Work by Zora Neale Hurston Will Finally Be Published

Library of Congress Screening of Rosenwald

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month and in partnership with the Library of Congress.

You are Invited to a Screening of Rosenwald at the Library of Congress!


Monday, May 21, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Mumford Room (6th floor),
James Madison Memorial Building

 101 Independence Avenue, SE
(between 1st and 2nd Streets)

 Refreshments will be provided


We are honored to host this screening in cooperation
with Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
John Lewis, and Danny K. Davis, who will all share remarks.

 Rosenwald School alumni Congressmen John Lewis and
long-term Chicago resident Congressman Danny K. Davis
both appear in the film, and Congresswoman Wasserman
Schultz sponsored the legislation establishing Jewish
American Heritage Month in 2006.

Director Aviva Kempner
will offer commentary on the making the film.

Learn more about Rosenwald here: