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Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education

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When Booker T. Washington, the famed African American educator, asked Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, to help him build well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children, the face of education in the South changed for the better. It was the early 1900s, a time of discrimination, racial segregation, a When Booker T. Washington, the famed African American educator, asked Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, to help him build well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children, the face of education in the South changed for the better. It was the early 1900s, a time of discrimination, racial segregation, and inadequate education for African Americans. Rosenwald created a special fund that in just twenty years built more than 5,300 schools attended by 600,000 black students. In this inspiring story, noted nonfiction writer Norman H. Finkelstein spotlights one man's legacy and the power of community action. Includes quotations, a detailed bibliography, and index.


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When Booker T. Washington, the famed African American educator, asked Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, to help him build well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children, the face of education in the South changed for the better. It was the early 1900s, a time of discrimination, racial segregation, a When Booker T. Washington, the famed African American educator, asked Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, to help him build well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children, the face of education in the South changed for the better. It was the early 1900s, a time of discrimination, racial segregation, and inadequate education for African Americans. Rosenwald created a special fund that in just twenty years built more than 5,300 schools attended by 600,000 black students. In this inspiring story, noted nonfiction writer Norman H. Finkelstein spotlights one man's legacy and the power of community action. Includes quotations, a detailed bibliography, and index.

30 review for Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shaeley Santiago

    I learned a lot from this book about how Sears Roebuck leader, Julius Rosenwald, decided to give away his wealth and helped build thousands of schools for African Americans in the South at a time when education for blacks was not a high priority. His methodology of requiring the community to be involved in the process is a model to how development projects should be carried out. In that sense, this book connected to Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and P I learned a lot from this book about how Sears Roebuck leader, Julius Rosenwald, decided to give away his wealth and helped build thousands of schools for African Americans in the South at a time when education for blacks was not a high priority. His methodology of requiring the community to be involved in the process is a model to how development projects should be carried out. In that sense, this book connected to Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan (different time and place but similar concept). I also learned more about early efforts at Civil Rights through education, including a bit more about the connection between Rosenwald's foundation and the Tuskegee Institute.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Great story about how the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, heavily influenced by Booker T. Washington, spent millions of his fortune to help build thousands of well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children. His philanthropy also extended to funding black colleges and fellowships to students pursuing higher education. Accessibly written and handsomely designed. I wish the author the author discussed more in the detail the differing education Great story about how the wealthy president of Sears, Roebuck and Company and noted philanthropist, heavily influenced by Booker T. Washington, spent millions of his fortune to help build thousands of well-designed and fully equipped schools for black children. His philanthropy also extended to funding black colleges and fellowships to students pursuing higher education. Accessibly written and handsomely designed. I wish the author the author discussed more in the detail the differing education philosophies of Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Children's Literature Centre at FSU

    This picture book is beautifully put together, and very informational. Norman H.Finkelstein tells the inspiring history of how Booker T. Washington, the famous African Americaneducator, convinced JuliusRosenwald, president of Sears, to support the building of more than 5,300 well-designed and well-equipped schools for African American students who didn’t previously have schools that were designed with their needs in mind. This book is very high quality, and I would recommend it to any teacher wh This picture book is beautifully put together, and very informational. Norman H.Finkelstein tells the inspiring history of how Booker T. Washington, the famous African Americaneducator, convinced JuliusRosenwald, president of Sears, to support the building of more than 5,300 well-designed and well-equipped schools for African American students who didn’t previously have schools that were designed with their needs in mind. This book is very high quality, and I would recommend it to any teacher who would like to share the story of Julius Rosenwald’s generous acts, and his legacy. Review written by Hannah McVey

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    Not everyone would agree with Julius Rosewald's way of education for African American kids. At least he made a difference to thousands of Black students. He provided clean and well-equipped schools where students learn basic academics and vocational training. He even backed some students in higher learning for those who really want to be a doctor or lawyer. Of course, he provide some financial support. However, he got the local community to come together to get the rest of the finances and build Not everyone would agree with Julius Rosewald's way of education for African American kids. At least he made a difference to thousands of Black students. He provided clean and well-equipped schools where students learn basic academics and vocational training. He even backed some students in higher learning for those who really want to be a doctor or lawyer. Of course, he provide some financial support. However, he got the local community to come together to get the rest of the finances and building schools and programs.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diego Leal

    Julius Rosenwald is a hero that I want to emulate because of his philanthropic endeavors. I like his style.

  6. 5 out of 5

    steph

    This was pretty good. I had never heard of the Rosenwald schools before this book, but in my defense, I am not from the South. I picked it up because the pictures looked interesting and so did the small quotes and statistics. It was an interesting read. At a time when separate but equal meant separate and not at all equal when it came to things like school books and heat and adequate teachers, Rosenwald set out to change all that. I liked that he didn't donate 100% of everything, instead he gave This was pretty good. I had never heard of the Rosenwald schools before this book, but in my defense, I am not from the South. I picked it up because the pictures looked interesting and so did the small quotes and statistics. It was an interesting read. At a time when separate but equal meant separate and not at all equal when it came to things like school books and heat and adequate teachers, Rosenwald set out to change all that. I liked that he didn't donate 100% of everything, instead he gave 1/3 the cost and the community and state board had to raise the other 2/3's in order to make the schools feel vital and part of the community. I liked that. I also liked a quote near the end that stated that these children he helped give a good education to in the twenties and thirties ended up being the parents of the teens and young adults marching in the Civil Right's movement in the sixties. That is important to note because it shows the importance of education and the foundation that his schools made for their pupils and how that influence further generations of African American children. I will note that this book is pretty biased in favor of Rosenwald and his schools and other philanthropical giving of his. I am sure not all areas in the rural South back then were thrilled to have to raise money for African Americans to go to school and become teachers and doctors and nurses and librarians etc but this book kind of glossed over any negativity Rosenwald's beliefs caused. It also glossed over the fact that Rosenwald believed in segregation, he did not try to integrate blacks and whites but instead kept them separate but tried to make them more equal which did not work really well especially after the Rosenwald Fund left and the local school board took over the schools and the students were left with outdated textbooks and bad teachers. I would have liked to seen more of that talked about in here. But alas, it was an interesting read and an important one and I'm glad I picked it up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Whisper Poet

    Schools of Hope gives a different view of the era of segregation by looking at the state of education for African Americans before integration. I found this book to be a very inspiring look at cooperation between races at a time when that was rare. Booker T. Washington inspired Julius Rosenwald, head of Sears, Roebuck and Company, to be a major contributor to build adequate schools for African American children in the South. In turn, Rosenwald inspired communities to work together to raise funds Schools of Hope gives a different view of the era of segregation by looking at the state of education for African Americans before integration. I found this book to be a very inspiring look at cooperation between races at a time when that was rare. Booker T. Washington inspired Julius Rosenwald, head of Sears, Roebuck and Company, to be a major contributor to build adequate schools for African American children in the South. In turn, Rosenwald inspired communities to work together to raise funds and provide work for the schools in exchange for matching funds. This short book is very comprehensive, including pictures of the schools, both pre- and post- Rosenwald, historical cartoons from the era, architectural drawings of the schools and pictures of historical figures, among others. End materials include detailed source notes, a bibliography including books, journals, newspapers and websites, an index, and picture credits. I highly recommend this book as an addition to school libraries especially. It will be a great addition to add variety to civil rights era curriculum. It will add depth to discussion on segregation, and will bring relevancy to students as they can all relate to the issue of schools and education.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This book truly inspires in readers what it means to do good philanthropically, even mentioning that Gates and Buffet have followed in Rosenwald's footsteps pledging their earnings to charity. To me, the most profound was that he took that money and 1) wanted matching donations so that each community worked toward the goal, and 2) he wanted his money earned spent in his lifetime, not for future generations because it was his money-- that got me thinking about all the rich people in the world who This book truly inspires in readers what it means to do good philanthropically, even mentioning that Gates and Buffet have followed in Rosenwald's footsteps pledging their earnings to charity. To me, the most profound was that he took that money and 1) wanted matching donations so that each community worked toward the goal, and 2) he wanted his money earned spent in his lifetime, not for future generations because it was his money-- that got me thinking about all the rich people in the world whose kids are simply rich because of their predecessors. Certainly not helping them feel the same philanthropy if they didn't earn it themselves-- kudos to Rosenwald. The premise of the man that ran Sears for many years, was that his giving spirit created over 5,000 schools for blacks in the south at a time when "separate but equal" was supposed to be the rule of thumb. Instead he realized, in partnerships with people like Booker T. Washington, that people wanted more. They wanted an education, they wanted to contribute and it became a community-wide effort. Rosenwald inspired, he was a champion and cheerleader. An inspiring book to demonstrate "the American dream" and putting riches to good use.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    In the early decades of the previous century, conditions for African-American schools in the South were deplorable. Finkelstein reveals a largely untold history of how Booker T. Washington, the famous balck educator, convinced Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, to support the building of more than 5,300 well-designed and well-equipped schools for this population over the course of twenty years. This is more than a story of an inspiring philanthropist, it is also a record In the early decades of the previous century, conditions for African-American schools in the South were deplorable. Finkelstein reveals a largely untold history of how Booker T. Washington, the famous balck educator, convinced Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, to support the building of more than 5,300 well-designed and well-equipped schools for this population over the course of twenty years. This is more than a story of an inspiring philanthropist, it is also a record of the black men and women who were intensely committed to bettering the lives of their children through education. Rosenwald set one important condition for his school contributions: each community had to raise funds to receive a school. By the time the final school was constructed in 1932, more than 600,000 black children had attended a Rosenwald school. Attractively laid out and generously illustrated with period black and white photographs, young readers and researchers will find this an engaging, readable treatment of a previously untold story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christina Getrost

    Story of how Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck, created a charitable fund that provided money for more than 5,000 schools for rural blacks. A little similar to Andrew Carnegie's funding of public libraries, the Rosenwald fund required that money also be put up by local residents. They also provided fellowships for Arican Americans to go to college, and provided new books for libraries and teacher/librarian education. Fund ended 24 years after his death--at his request; he wanted othe Story of how Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck, created a charitable fund that provided money for more than 5,000 schools for rural blacks. A little similar to Andrew Carnegie's funding of public libraries, the Rosenwald fund required that money also be put up by local residents. They also provided fellowships for Arican Americans to go to college, and provided new books for libraries and teacher/librarian education. Fund ended 24 years after his death--at his request; he wanted others to provide money for their own contemporary issues. The book mentions the inequality of segregated schools, but that it was the system at the time that they had to work with. Nice design, lots of photographs, has index, sources and citations. Text is a little dry and what I'd call "cheerleadery." I noted with interest that the book is dedicated to Iliana Sugarman; funny coincidence since I was reading this in relation to the Norman A. Sugarman Biography Award for children.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I loved the historical photos throughout the book. They depict the Rosenwald schools, the dilapidated buildings they were replacing, students and teachers, and pivotal figures in promoting the Rosenwald Fund activities. I had heard about these schools, but I had no idea how many of them were constructed. Another surprise was the Rosenwald Fund endowment program that supported such famous people as Marian Anderson in pursuing education and training in their chosen fields. Quotes from former stude I loved the historical photos throughout the book. They depict the Rosenwald schools, the dilapidated buildings they were replacing, students and teachers, and pivotal figures in promoting the Rosenwald Fund activities. I had heard about these schools, but I had no idea how many of them were constructed. Another surprise was the Rosenwald Fund endowment program that supported such famous people as Marian Anderson in pursuing education and training in their chosen fields. Quotes from former students who attended class in schools built with Rosenwald support add a personal touch to the story. Readers will be amazed at the amount of money raised and effort donated to build these schools in communities across the South. The philosophy behind the building program and the close partnership with Tuskegee Institute are also explained. This would make a wonderful addition to a unit on segregation, Civil Rights, or regional history. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Penny Peck

    With large b&w photos on nearly every page, this is a quick read and will help young people grasp the importance of helping others. Sears Roebuck co-owner Julius Rosenwald took on the project of funding schools for African-American children in the Jim Crow South in the early 1900's, inspired by his friendship with Booker T. Washington. The schools were separate but at least they were fairly equal, built with local materials, large windows, room for shop classes, privies, and even rooms for the t With large b&w photos on nearly every page, this is a quick read and will help young people grasp the importance of helping others. Sears Roebuck co-owner Julius Rosenwald took on the project of funding schools for African-American children in the Jim Crow South in the early 1900's, inspired by his friendship with Booker T. Washington. The schools were separate but at least they were fairly equal, built with local materials, large windows, room for shop classes, privies, and even rooms for the teachers in some cases. Unfortunately, books were the one area not covered by the project, and of course local districts gave black schools the cast-off books. The narrative is quite brief but very clear on why Rosenwald took on this effort, and how the schools were built (floor plans are included along with photos). An interesting look at a little-known area of history and philanthropy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane Ferbrache

    When Julius Rosenwald made his fortune as the president of Sears, Roebuck, he made a commitment to use his wealth to help others. One of his biggest influences was Booker T. Washington. When Rosenwald realized the conditions of schools for Black children, he created a foundation to fund educational opportunities and build schools. The result was a scholarship program that created doctors, lawyers, professors and artists, and build over 5,300 schools between 1912 and 1932 all across the South. When Julius Rosenwald made his fortune as the president of Sears, Roebuck, he made a commitment to use his wealth to help others. One of his biggest influences was Booker T. Washington. When Rosenwald realized the conditions of schools for Black children, he created a foundation to fund educational opportunities and build schools. The result was a scholarship program that created doctors, lawyers, professors and artists, and build over 5,300 schools between 1912 and 1932 all across the South. Written by Rosenwald’s grandson, this is a clear and interestingly written story of one man’s commitment to changing the world. Many of the leaders in the Black community can trace their roots to Rosenwald’s foundation. Filled with beautiful photographs and well-annotated with source notes and a bibliography, this is a great addition to any history collection.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jane Drabkin

    This tells the wonderful story of how and why Julius Rosenwald built schools in the African-American community in the early 1900s. The story is clearly written by Rosenwald's granddaughter. It is a remArkable story and she cites Rosenwald's writing as well as the words of students at the school. We don't learn much about who Rosenwald was as a person and we don't follow a particular school being built. I am not sure that this book will hold light a fire under students, but it is a good book for This tells the wonderful story of how and why Julius Rosenwald built schools in the African-American community in the early 1900s. The story is clearly written by Rosenwald's granddaughter. It is a remArkable story and she cites Rosenwald's writing as well as the words of students at the school. We don't learn much about who Rosenwald was as a person and we don't follow a particular school being built. I am not sure that this book will hold light a fire under students, but it is a good book for Black history month and a wonderful example of businessmen who thought about more than accruing more and more money.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Annie Oosterwyk

    Julius Rosenwald was the president of Sears and Roebuck when he made his millions. He generously gave back to humanity by funding worthy causes. One of those causes stemmed from his admiration of Booker T. Washington and his work at Tuskegee Institute. The outcome was partially funded schools for African Americans in the south. The community provided ~2/3 of the equity in their school, which increased their pride and investment in their communities. These schools tried to fill the gap in educati Julius Rosenwald was the president of Sears and Roebuck when he made his millions. He generously gave back to humanity by funding worthy causes. One of those causes stemmed from his admiration of Booker T. Washington and his work at Tuskegee Institute. The outcome was partially funded schools for African Americans in the south. The community provided ~2/3 of the equity in their school, which increased their pride and investment in their communities. These schools tried to fill the gap in education equality during the Jim Crow years, before the end of segregation. Not perfect, but a step in the right direction.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    "Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." Booker T. Washington "Rural schools of all types are poor enough, but the rural negro schools are bad beyond comprehension." Julias Rosenwald And with those words, he set out with the assistance of Booker T. Washington to change public education for African Americans in the South. I found this book simply amazing. I had never heard of this gentleman (JR) and am amazed by his endeavors that he took on. I loved his plans as well of havin "Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others." Booker T. Washington "Rural schools of all types are poor enough, but the rural negro schools are bad beyond comprehension." Julias Rosenwald And with those words, he set out with the assistance of Booker T. Washington to change public education for African Americans in the South. I found this book simply amazing. I had never heard of this gentleman (JR) and am amazed by his endeavors that he took on. I loved his plans as well of having the students/community fund raise to take ownership in the schools. Overall just an amazing book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    CKE387

    5,300 schools were built for 600,000 African-American students; the last one was built in 1932. Julius Rosenwald would donate a portion of the money needed to fund the school, but wanted the community to raise an equal sum, in cash and labor, in order to receive the grant: help people who want to help themselves, not looking for a hand-out. Sometime white landowners donated land for the schools. A former slave even contributed his life savings $36 in pennies "so that his great-grandchildren migh 5,300 schools were built for 600,000 African-American students; the last one was built in 1932. Julius Rosenwald would donate a portion of the money needed to fund the school, but wanted the community to raise an equal sum, in cash and labor, in order to receive the grant: help people who want to help themselves, not looking for a hand-out. Sometime white landowners donated land for the schools. A former slave even contributed his life savings $36 in pennies "so that his great-grandchildren might have a chance to be educated." That's dedication!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    This Book Was Given to Me For An Honest Review School of Hope is an excellent book. It talks about the schools in the south and how the black children basically had none and no education. Julius Rosenwald, took some of his wealth and teamed with others and with his foundation built schools, taught teachers and got supplies in order to teach children. Even after his death people whether white or black continued on in his legacy. This book is so good I read it in one seating. I just wish I could gi This Book Was Given to Me For An Honest Review School of Hope is an excellent book. It talks about the schools in the south and how the black children basically had none and no education. Julius Rosenwald, took some of his wealth and teamed with others and with his foundation built schools, taught teachers and got supplies in order to teach children. Even after his death people whether white or black continued on in his legacy. This book is so good I read it in one seating. I just wish I could give more than 5 stars. I highly recommend it to everyone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joan Marie

    Though separate is never equal, this book reveals how Julius Rosenwald, once President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, helped change African American education in the early 1900s. Though text seems repetitive at times, the visual format is appealing in its use of historical photos, inset quotes on black backgrounds and "framing." As always, with Calkins Creek's nonfiction titles, the source notes, bibliography, list of helpful websites, index, picture credits & captions, author's note in the fore Though separate is never equal, this book reveals how Julius Rosenwald, once President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, helped change African American education in the early 1900s. Though text seems repetitive at times, the visual format is appealing in its use of historical photos, inset quotes on black backgrounds and "framing." As always, with Calkins Creek's nonfiction titles, the source notes, bibliography, list of helpful websites, index, picture credits & captions, author's note in the foreword, richly add to the text.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bobbi

    Julius Rosenwald, one of the early Presidents of Sears, Roebuck, helped build over 5000 schools for black children in the South. One of the few that has survived is here in my small North Carolina town and it is currently being renovated. This book is for children in grades 5-8 and tells the story of how black children in the South were educated until 50 years ago. Some of the students who attended this school are still here and participating in it's renovation and the telling of it's history. Julius Rosenwald, one of the early Presidents of Sears, Roebuck, helped build over 5000 schools for black children in the South. One of the few that has survived is here in my small North Carolina town and it is currently being renovated. This book is for children in grades 5-8 and tells the story of how black children in the South were educated until 50 years ago. Some of the students who attended this school are still here and participating in it's renovation and the telling of it's history.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    The true story of how Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears & Roebuck, helped Booker T. Washington build schools for African American children in the South in the early 1900s. Well documented and great pictures, it was easy to follow even though it repeated concepts frequently, possibly for emphasis.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather Brown

    An interesting and elegant book about a little-known subject, Schools of Hope is a great resource for learning about African American history. Julius Rosenwald was a white Jewish millionaire that spent much of his money on building schools for African American kids. He had seen just how inadequate and deplorable the few that existed were, and knew he had to do something.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Kahn

    Wowzers! I had never heard of Julius Rosenwald or his fund to build schools in the south. What a remarkable story. The book is beautifully designed, chock full of black and white photos. The narrative flows nicely and provides plenty of historical context.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    What a remarkable man and I can't believe that with all the reading I do, I had never heard of Rosenwald Schools or his part in the education of African Americans in the early 1900s. And...he also supported certified librarians and school libraries! What a remarkable man and I can't believe that with all the reading I do, I had never heard of Rosenwald Schools or his part in the education of African Americans in the early 1900s. And...he also supported certified librarians and school libraries!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    This interesting and gave me some knowledge about African American history that I did not know about. Also gave me information about Julius Rosenwald. I had never heard of him.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Zachs

    Good quick Read Not the most well written book, but a great !American story that not many know of. Worth the read . would suggest to those interested in philanthropy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Dean

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    An inspiring story of a generous man who changed countless lives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Burton

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Sandy

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