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Rosenwald Schools of Palm Beach County: Home

Resources and information about the History of Rosenwald Schools of Palm Beach County

Rosenwald Schools of Palm Beach County by Janet DeVries (Gallery Exhibit)

What was a Rosenwald School?

Rosenwald School was the name informally applied to over 5,000 schools, shops, and teachers' homes in the United States which were built primarily for the education of African American children in the South in the early 20th century.

The landscape of schools for Black students in Palm Beach County began to change in the 1920s. Until that time, little had been done in the name of formal education for Black students. When it came to building public schools and paying teachers to educate Black youngsters, separate and unequal treatment still reigned in the south.

Though he was not the first white philanthropist to support the education of Blacks, Julius Rosenwald, the president of the Sears Roebuck Company propelled the effort to new heights. Rosenwald was the impetus that created better schools, longer school years and school libraries for southern Black children. Mr. Joseph Youngblood, who served as the first president of Palm Beach Junior College (now Palm Beach State College), was instrumental in petitioning for better schools for Black students.

Between 1925 and 1931, the Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fund provided money to erect eleven much-needed public schoolhouses for Black children in Palm Beach County. The buildings ranged in cost from $2,491 to $17,150 to erect. Though none of the original school buildings are still in existence today, the new schoolhouses provided not only a place for Black students to get an education, but the new structures provided space for community events and provided a haven for peace, order, and cleanliness in their lives. The Rosenwald Foundation not only created permanent schoolhouses for Black children in Palm Beach County, but the result was also a longer school year, more Black students attending high school, and a sense of pride and self-esteem for the Black community. When Palm Beach County schools integrated in the 1960s, the Rosenwald schools were phased out and the schoolhouses replaced by newer school buildings.

Palm Beach County School buildings & name change history

H.R.3250 - Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Act of 2020

On January 13, 2021  H.R.3250 - Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Act of 2020 passed the Senate and became Public Law No: 116-336. 

This bill directs the Department of the Interior to study the sites associated with the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald, a part owner and President of Sears, Roebuck and Company and a noted philanthropist who helped finance construction of 5,357 schools in 15 southern states between 1912 and 1932. The study shall include a special emphasis on specified sites, including certain Rosenwald Schools.

In conducting such study, Interior shall (1) evaluate the national significance of the sites; and (2) determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the sites as a unit of the National Park System, including an interpretive center in or near Chicago, Illinois.

Research Starter: Julius Rosenwald