Rosenwald Legacy Topic of Second Film in Social Justice Series at OCtech

Photo of Rosenwald film coverThe second film in Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and Center for Creative Partnerships’ Community Cinema social justice film series will be screened Thursday, March 16.

“Rosenwald” by Aviva Kempner will begin at 6 p.m. in the Roquemore Auditorium, Building R, on the campus of OCtech. It is free and open to the public.

“Rosenwald” tells of the partnership between businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, and Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery and rose to become the founder of the Tuskegee Institute and an advisor to U.S. presidents. Together, they built thousands of schools for African-American children in the South.

The son of a clothier, Rosenwald – who became one of the wealthiest men in America and a beloved humanitarian – teamed up with Richard Sears to build Sears, Roebuck and Co., where he served president from 1908 to 1924 and chairman from 1924 to 1932.

Rosenwald used his great wealth and leadership skills to try to fix what he viewed as wrong with the world. He helped establish social services to meet the needs of impoverished Jewish immigrants in Chicago at the turn of the century and was approached by Washington in 1912 to assist in funding a program for African-American southerners that promoted economic advancement through vocational education. He gave away some $63 million in his lifetime to various causes, but perhaps Rosenwald’s greatest accomplishment was the establishment of challenge grants for the creation of more than 5,500 schools for poor, rural African-American children. Rosenwald schools replaced the run-down buildings that housed most rural African-American public schools. From 1915 to 1932, some 660,000 children were educated in Rosenwald schools, giving them a chance to move beyond the poverty found in such areas.

A question-and-answer session with the filmmaker Kempner will be held following the film. Ellen Zisholtz, CCP co-president, will serve as moderator.

The final film in the series, “The Ipson Saga” by Jay Ipson, will be shown Thursday, April 20. The film series is funded in part by OCtech and South Carolina Humanities and sponsored by Cox Industries Inc.