Noteworthy

Exploring the Rich History of the Rosenwald Schools

Posted on October 07, 2013

By Holly Walker

Here at Tyler, learning about history goes beyond the classroom and textbook. Our students have the opportunity to preserve history. Led by Sharon Burnham, assistant professor of history, and Dr. Alyce Miller, associate professor of history, students in JTCC’s History Club and in Assistant Professor Burnham’s HIS 122 classes are working on capturing and preserving the oral histories of those who were once students of the Rosenwald Schools.  

More than 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built from 1912-1932, as part of an effort by Virginian Booker T. Washington and businessman Julius Rosenwald to provide educational opportunities to African American children in the South. It is believed that one out of five African American children in the region attended a Rosenwald School, making the Rosenwald program an important part of America’s history. But, it’s one that has been quietly been vanishing. It is estimated that only 10-12 percent of the Rosenwald Schools remain standing today. Here in Virginia, approximately 367 Rosenwald Schools were built, but an inventory currently being conducted by Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources has determined the location of only 62 of the schools.  

In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave the Rosenwald Schools National Treasure status, and in 2013, Preservation Virginia named the Rosenwald Schools in Virginia to its list of most endangered sites.

On October 16, Assistant Professor Burnham and Dr. Miller will hold a lecture on the Rosenwald Schools in Virginia. The lecture will take place at 12:00 p.m. in Bird Hall, room B124, at the Chester Campus. All JTCC students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

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