Why a National Historical Park?
Julius Rosenwald is of national significance as a philanthropist of unusual vision. Rosenwald felt a particular sense of mission in advancing opportunity for African Americans through the Rosenwald schools and to the growth of the arts, humanities and social justice through the Rosenwald Fund. The schools themselves are nationally significant as powerful, tangible exemplars of the struggle for education among African Americans in the rural south in the first part of the twentieth century. Rosenwald provided the seed funds, and the communities procured the land, raised substantial monies and contributed labor and materials. The over 5,000 schoolhouses and related buildings he helped fund were state-of-the-art for the period and educated one third of all African American children in the South during the years of segregation, producing markedly improved educational outcomes for their students and bringing a sense of hope and civic engagement to their communities.
In consideration of the highly significant influence of Julius Rosenwald and his philanthropic contributions to American history, a national historical park will be a significant enhancement to the National Park System. It will add depth and dimension to the history of American life, interpreting the courage and resilience of African Americans seeking to achieve educational, social and legal equality in the early to mid-twentieth century. The park will also highlight the contributions of immigrant families to our collective heritage and will be the first of more than 400 specifically designated National Park units to commemorate the life and contributions of a Jewish American.