A Forest Hills neighbor’s 2015 film continues to shine the spotlight on the good works of a man who built more than 5,000 schools for black children in the segregated south.
Documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner released Rosenwald to great critical acclaim. It tells the story of Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy Sears Roebuck executive who was inspired by Booker T. Washington.
Some Rosenwald schools still stand, and the race is now on to identify and preserve them. After a special April 6th screening of Rosenwald at Hampton University, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a $50,000 National Park Service grant to support efforts to rediscover and landmark the sites of these schools across the state.
“In Virginia and beyond, ignorance has been used as a weapon of oppression. Education has always been the salvation of the oppressed,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe in a statement. “By building schools, Rosenwald and Washington confronted racism at its core and laid a foundation for the Civil Rights Movement. The legacy of their labors continues to shape our Commonwealth and country today.”
That this film and its Jewish subject are part of this recognition now seems especially appropriate. Passover is the Jewish celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt. It also a recognition of those who continue to be “enslaved” in our present time. And as in Rosenwald’s time, the Jim Crow era, the legacy of slavery in the United States still resonates today.
There are two screenings of the film in the DC area on Wednesday, April 19th in Rockville and at Georgetown University. Aviva Kempner will talk about the film after the Georgetown screening. The DC community is welcome to attend:
Reception at 6:30 p.m.
Film at 7:00 p.m.
Social Room, Healey Family Student Center, 37th and O Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20057