Citizens for Fauquier County is pleased to be a sponsor of the African American Historical Association’s recognition of the Fauquier County’s seven Rosenwald Schools and the celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first African Americans to Virginia’s shores. The public event will take place at Eva Walker Park on Alexandria Pike in Warrenton on August 3 at 10:00 a.m. An unveiling of a historic marker will take place at the park and the speaker will be Michael Blakely, Ph.D., of the College of William and Mary.
Julius Rosenwald was a Jewish-American clothier who became part-owner and President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. He collaborated with African American leader, educator and philanthropist, Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, to educate black children, predominantly in the South. Rosenwald was the founder of the Rosenwald Fund, established in 1917. He contributed seed money for schools and other philanthropic causes. To promote collaboration between black and white people, he required communities to commit public funds and/or labor to the schools as well as to contribute additional cash donations after construction.
The program raised millions of dollars from African American communities across the South for a better education for their children. White school boards had to agree to operate and maintain the schools. Working together, Rosenwald and Washington built 5,000 schools that educated about one-third of African American children. Unlike other endowed foundations, which were designed to fund themselves in perpetuity, the Rosenwald Fund was intended to use all of its funds for philanthropic purposes. It donated more than 70 million dollars to public schools, colleges, Jewish charities and black institutions before the funds were depleted in 1948.
In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald Schools near the top of the country’s most endangered places and created a campaign to raise awareness and money for preservation. In 2015, the National Trust classified the Rosenwald Schools as National Treasures. In Fauquier County, all the surviving schools are deemed eligible for State and National Register status.