Julius Rosenwald was a Jewish American philanthropist. He believed the most serious problem of the United States was the plight of Black Americans. Dr. Booker T. Washington, though having been a slave, rose to become the nationally respected President of Tuskegee Institute (University). He was an author, orator, and advisor to American Presidents. Rosenwald was a close friend of Washington. In 1912, Dr. Washington invited Rosenwald to serve on the Tuskegee board.
Under Washington’s guidance, Rosenwald funded a successful pilot program making education accessible to black children in Alabama by building schoolhouses. In 1915, Washington died. Rosenwald, continuing Dr. Washington’s vision established the Rosenwald Fund in 1917 “for the well-being of Mankind.
Black, rural, and segregated southern schools suffered severely from inadequate facilities and books. Rosenwald’s 1917 school building fund encouraged and helped organize local collaboration between blacks and whites.
Between 1917 and 1932, Rosenwald funded 5,357 community schools, teacher’s homes, and industrial shops in the 15 states of the former
South. Many of the schools were 1-4 room Tuskegee Institute designs. They were taught by black teachers under the local Board of Education. By the 1930s, 1/3 of all black children, representing 663,615 students and 14,747 teachers, attended a Rosenwald School.
The black community contributed $4,725,891 and $4,364,869 from the Rosenwald Fund, with a total funding of $24,408,520. The Rosenwald Fund was based on a system of matching grants requiring white school boards and black communities to cooperate for school construction. The black community in Texas contributed $392,851, with $419,376 from Rosenwald. 466 school buildings, 37 homes, and 33 shops for 57,330 students and 1,272 teachers in 82 counties were built.
Henderson County had seven school locations consisting of 10 buildings and 22 teachers. The Antioch School was built in 1929-30, for two teachers. The cost was $3250. $500 came from the black community, $2500 from the public, and $500 from Rosenwald.
Dr. Washington and Julius Rosenwald both recognized education was the key to transform the future. Erected 2023 by Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, Texas African American Museum, Empowerment and Community Development Corp., Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.