History of Rosenwald SchoolsPublished 5:02pm Friday, August 3, 2012
Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by Mae Carolyn Jackson Williams. She is the daughter of Della H. Jackson and attended Edmund Embury School and Union Grove School in Polk County, both of which have been identified as Rosenwald Schools. She now works with a committee that planned the renovation of the Ridgeley School, a Rosenwald School in Capitol Heights, Md.
Between 1912 and 1932, many schools were built for African-American students throughout the south, including Polk County, with financial help from the Rosenwald Fund. The money in the Rosenwald Fund was donated by Julius Rosenwald, a former president of Sears, Roebuck and Company.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is sponsoring a national initiative to save all existing Rosenwald Schools that have not been demolished and to identify the location of all Rosenwald Schools that have been demolished.
Five schools in Polk County have been identified as Rosenwald Schools: Edmund Embury School, Union Grove School, Green Creek School, Pea Ridge School and Coxe School.
Booker T. Washington went to Rosenwald in 1912 to ask for money to construct six schools in Alabama. The construction of these schools was such a success that a partnership between Rosenwald and Washington was established for the purpose of building other schools for African-American children.
From 1912 until 1932, Rosenwald donated money to help construct more than 5,000 schools in 15 southern states for African-American children.
A Rosenwald School could range in size from one room to a school with 14 or more rooms. One of the designated plans for a Rosenwald School had to be used when constructing a school. One of the distinguishing features of a Rosenwald School is classrooms with a wall of windows.