I had never heard of Julius Rosenwald until my supervisor was talking about hosting and bringing a documentary about his work with schools to the Chattanooga community. After watching it I'm frustrated that I had never heard of him or his work before.
The 1908 Riots in Springfield brought the awakening/beginning of Rosenwald being a strong advocate for Black lives. It was also the beginning of NAACP.
Rosenwald used his fortune, philanthropy skills to build 5,000 schoolhouses across America for Black students before segregation. He helped build them by pledging funds to Black communities and making them raise the remaining balance.
He worked with Booker T. Washington to form Tuskegee University. The Rosenwald Fund led to fellowships for W.E.B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Gordon Parks, Dr. Maya Angelou, Augusta Savage and countless other Black artists and activists receiving fellowships to make the historically beautiful art they're known for today.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt left the Daughters of the American Revolution organization after they denied legendary singer Marian Anderson (a recipient of a Rosenwald Fund scholarship) from performing at Constitution Hall and became a board member for the Rosenwald Fund. Her position on the board not only led to Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial, but it led to her going to Tuskegee, Alabama and the foundation of the legendary group of Black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
I'm not going to glorify this man into making him seem like an idol that needs to be worshiped. But I will use him as an example of what can happen when one person sees something wrong and uses their privilege. Everyone has a privilege over someone else. It's about acknowledging your privilege and using it to help others. He used his wealth and his privilege to make a difference when others refused to do so. His work led to other people making differences and impacting countless others.
I was able to meet a teacher from the Rosenwald Schools. Evelyn Hardin taught at several Rosenwald Schools in Chattanooga. She's alive today at 101 years old and she is still advocating everything she taught students years ago.
"We've got to work together."
Julius Rosenwald had a quote that describes everything that I feel in my day to day life.
"Give while you live."
I make it my mission to give what I can when I can. Donating clothes, food, or time can change a person's life. Listening to people when they reach out for help or assistance is something we can all do. Taking that further step and helping them is something we can all do.
That's what I took away from this.
Using my privilege to change a life. Because when I do there's no end to the amount of change i can create.