The Washington, DC-based Ciesla Foundation has announced a new documentary chronicling the life of businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. A first-generation American born in Illinois, Rosenwald made a fortune at the helm of Sears, Roebuck and Co., then donated most of the profits during his lifetime. His philanthropy targeted America’s most direly underserved populations, including Jewish immigrants in Chicago and African-Americans nationwide.
Rosenwald’s crowning achievement was the creation of more than 5,500 model schools for poor, rural African-American children in the southern US. Between 1915 and 1932, over 600,000 students benefited from state-of-the-art facilities and instruction financed through a combination of Rosenwald’s personal wealth and strategic challenge grants. Though Rosenwald’s involvement has been largely forgotten, many of the schoolhouses still exist, and the film also covers ongoing restoration and preservation efforts.
Directed by Aviva Kempner, Rosenwald will screen in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington, DC this spring.