honoring a Legacy
The mission of the Rosenwald Park Campaign is to create a new National Historical Park with a visitor center in Chicago and a number of Rosenwald School sites throughout the south, all to be selected by the National Park Service.
The son of German Jewish immigrants, Julius Rosenwald became one of the most influential businessmen and visionary philanthropists of the 20th century. Under his leadership, Sears, Roebuck & Company revolutionized retail sales and the mass production of products.
As a philanthropist his contributions to social justice were highly significant—particularly his advancement of African American education, arts, and achievement. The 4,977 Rosenwald Schools in 15 southern states that he helped make a reality and the nearly 900 fellowships the Rosenwald Fund awarded to highly-talented people, two thirds of whom were African American, responded to pressing needs. The schools enabled children to study longer and complete higher grade levels, which increased African American literacy and led to a decline in child labor. They were notably significant resources that played a pivotal role by educating one-third of African American children in the segregated South.
The fellowship program demonstrated that African Americans, if given the opportunity and resources, could contribute significantly to our nation and the world.
Rosenwald also contributed to Jewish causes, served on the Board of Jane Addams’ Hull House for 20 years and was the founding donor of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. He truly embodied social justice.
The planned National Historical Park will ensure the preservation of these unique cultural assets and highlight the remarkable story of Rosenwald’s pioneering partnerships and programs that advanced African American rights and education and helped shape US history in the 20th century and beyond.
Importantly, the National Park will be the first to commemorate the life of a Jewish American and the impact of Rosenwald Schools. It will also emphasize the key role of education in attaining a more perfect Union.