IMDb Plot: Rosenwald, by Aviva Kempner, is a documentary about how Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who rose to head Sears, partnered with Booker T. Washington to build 5,400 Southern schools in African American communities in the early 1900s during the Jim Crow era. Rosenwald also built YMCAs and housing for African Americans to address the pressing needs of the Great Migration. The Rosenwald Fund supported great artists like Marian Anderson, Woody Guthrie, Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, and Jacob Lawrence. Among those interviewed are civil rights leaders Julian Bond, Ben Jealous and Congressman John Lewis, columnists Eugene Robinson and Clarence Page, Cokie Roberts, Rabbi David Saperstein, Rosenwald school alumni writer Maya Angelou and director George C. Wolfe and Rosenwald relatives.
"Who in the world is (Julius) Rosenwald?" He never finished high school, yet his impact as a magnate and philanthropist helped redefine America in the 20th century. Described as "friendly" and "informal," he bore little resemblance to the likes of Edison, Ford and Rockefeller, donating great time & wealth to the advancement of African Americans. The first 45 minutes of Rosenwald is fascinating, although the second half focuses (almost entirely) on those who benefited from his generosity. "His life as a philanthropist was completely separate," but a closer look at the man (versus his money) would have been even better.
Rosenwald opens today at the Avalon Theatre and Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax. Director Aviva Kempner and special guests will appear at the Avalon for Q&As throughout the first week. Click here for dates and times.