Sunday, October 6, 2019

Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald

The philanthropy Rosenwald invested in African-American causes in the early 1900s changed the course of education for thousands of children in the rural South and helped foster the careers of prominent artists, including writer Langston Hughes, opera singer Marion Anderson and painter Jacob Lawrence. 
Rosenwald, who made his fortune at the helm of Sears, Roebuck and Co., also provided seed money to build YMCAs for blacks in cities around the country. In addition, he developed a huge apartment complex in Chicago to help improve the living conditions for the masses who had migrated from the Jim Crow South.

“It’s a wonderful story of cooperation between this philanthropist who did not have to care about black people, but who did, and who expended his considerable wealth in ensuring that they got their fair shake in America,” Julian Bond, the renowned civil rights leader, says in the documentary. 
Kempner told JTA that her new film on Rosenwald “celebrates the affinity between African-Americans and Jews” that started long before the civil rights movement and speaks to the powerful Jewish tradition of tikkun olam, or repairing the world. 
Kempner joined Bond and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former head of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center who now serves as U.S. ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom, for a discussion after the screening at the NAACP conference. It was while attending a public program 12 years ago on Martha’s Vineyard at which Bond and Saperstein discussed black-Jewish relations that Kempner first learned of Rosenwald’s work with African-Americans. 
She calls this film the last of a trilogy documenting the lives of “under-known Jewish heroes.” The first two were about baseball legend Hank Greenberg and radio and TV personality Gertrude Berg. (Read more.)

No comments: