Between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, the Rosenwald rural school building program proved to be a critical initiative in the effort to provide educational opportunities to African Americans in the South. More than 5,000 Rosenwald Schools, including 367 in Virginia, were built during that time. However, today, it is estimated only 10 to 12 percent of these buildings remain standing nationwide.
For the third year in a row, John Tyler Community College and Preservation Virginia will bring together people from all over the Commonwealth who are interested in saving Virginia’s remaining Rosenwald buildings and their histories. Virginia’s Rosenwald Conference, taking place on February 19, will feature presentations about the history of Rosenwald Schools; restoration projects and how some Rosenwald buildings are being re-purposed; partnerships in the preservation effort; collections of oral histories; getting the community engaged; and much more.
Rosenwald School alumni and their descendants; students; community members; historical groups; researchers; preservationists and anyone who would like to learn about these ongoing local- and state-level efforts are invited to participate in the Virginia’s Rosenwald Schools Conference, which will be held at Tyler’s Chester Campus, located at 13101 Jefferson Davis Hwy., from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.
The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia (CHSV) continues to promote its Black History exhibit on “Chesterfield County African-American Schools during the Segregated Era” with digitization completed by Chesterfield County Public Library staff.
The exhibit that was featured at the Chesterfield County Museum from February 2014 through July 2014 can be viewed on the Chesterfield County Central Library website at http://ccpl-discover.chesterfield.gov/iii/cpro/.
The information presented in the exhibit was compiled by the African American History Committee of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia. The committee documented the schools which provided public education for African-Americans from the beginning of Chesterfield’s public school system in 1870 until full school integration in 1970.
Featuring the story of segregated schoolhouses in Chesterfield County built to accommodate children of African-American descent, the exhibit includes six schools built with the support of the Rosenwald Fund, the collaboration between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald. The exhibit presented oral histories of former students as well as numerous photos and artifacts loaned by local families which include school staff and students.