Meet the Jew who built 5,300 schools for black children in the 1900s Deep South | The Times of Israel
The film’s historians document the parallels Rosenwald drew at the time between the pogroms against European Jews and violent attacks on blacks in America. He was particularly moved by the race riots in 1908 in Springfield, which are said to have sparked the founding of the NAACP. Hirsch was one of the original leaders of the NAACP, and Rosenwald sponsored its first meetings at his temple.
He was also influenced by the writings of Booker T. Washington, a prominent black leader at the time, and became a funder of Washington’s Tuskegee University in Alabama.
When Rosenwald gave a $25,000 gift to Tuskegee, Washington suggested taking a few thousand dollars to build six schools for young children. Until then, most black children didn’t attend school, but instead spent their time working in the fields alongside their parents. The few schools that did exist were primitive shacks staffed mostly by untrained teachers.