Maya Angelou, U.S. Representative John Lewis, Medgar Evers, Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, John Hope Franklin, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Marian Anderson. Acclaimed poets and writers, civil rights and political leaders, award-winning historians and photographers, a world-famous opera star. What do they have in common?
Each was touched by Julius Rosenwald, the least known but most profoundly effective educational philanthropist of the 20th Century. For nearly 30 years, Rosenwald partnered with Booker T. Washington to build some 5,000 schools in 15 states across the South, collaborating with Black communities to create an education for the students that Jim Crow purposefully left behind. Rosenwald also funded grants, enabling Black Americans to pursue further study and in the process helped them advance to enrich us all. So why don't we know more about what he -- and they -- accomplished? And why is telling the Rosenwald story so important today? To find out more, I talked with Julius' great great nephew Bob Rosenwald and Bob's wife Jeanne, who have worked to shed light on this extraordinary man and his contribution, the Rosenwald Schools, and the importance of his example in 2021.
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