Rep. Davis Statement on HR 3250, the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Act of 2020
December 17, 2020
Floor Remarks on HR 3250, the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Act of 2020. (as prepared-bill passed the House)
I rise in strong support of the Julius Rosenwald Schools Act and thank leadership for placing it on the suspension calendar.
This bill starts the process to establish a Julius Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park to focus on the incredible impact of Julius Rosenwald, a successful entrepreneur and renowned philanthropist who make lasting contributions to the advancement of African American Education and other cultural social, scientific and economic developments.
Mr. Rosenwald was the President of Sears Roebuck & Company during its heyday. He used his fortune to enhance the lives of others, establishing museums, community centers and housing as well as helping Jews in Europe and new immigrants to the United States.
Mr. Rosenwald was a friend and associate of Booker T. Washington. He served on the board of Tuskegee College and established the Julius Rosenwald Fund and partnered with local groups to create over 5,300 schools in the south for Africa Americans. During the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s it is reported that one-third of all Africa American children in the south were educated in the Rosenwald Schools.
Although I did not attend a Rosenwald School I grew up in the rural south, Arkansas and attended a one room school where one teacher, Mrs. Beadie King taught 8 grades, plus what we called the little primer and the big primer all at the same time. Many of the small towns and rural areas where African Americans lived had no schools at all and if they did, they often only went to the 6th or 8th grades.
As one who has lived, worked and represents the area where Sears Roebuck and Company has its international headquarters, I know and understand the importance of Mr. Rosenwald’s life and contributions.
In addition to education, Rosenwald provided matching funds to communities for construction of YMCAs for African Americans during the Jim Crow era. The Rosenwald fund supported the early NAACP cases that eventually led to the Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, provided fellowships to Africa Americans in the arts and sciences, and supported several Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Fisk, Dillard and Howard. Mr. Rosenwald improved the lives of those in Chicago as well, creating the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry, the Rosenwald building 421 unite if housing and commercial properties at 47th and King Drive in the heart of Bronzeville, a black community in Chicago and other local initiatives.
Julius Rosenwald was very instrumental in bringing together and in cementing relationships between and among various cultures and ethnic communities, especially Black and Jewish.
A great contributor, a great humanitarian, a great American; therefore, we need to do everything that we can to preserve his heritage, his contributions and his legacy.
I urge passage of HR 3250, the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Act and yield back the balance of my time.