This unique event will be held at the Kremlin School from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is free to the public. The program will feature scholarly insights of Stephanie Deutsch author of You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of the Schools for the Segregated South. Following a short break for refreshments, a panel of former students, teachers and community leaders will discuss the impact and importance of the Rosenwald School at Kremlin and the African-American community of Westmoreland County, Virginia.
The surviving Rosenwald Schools represent one of the most ambitious school building projects ever undertaken, and, perhaps more importantly, they symbolize the African-American community’s struggle for a decent education in the segregated South. Although the Rosenwald Fund provided the money, the local African- American community had to match the amount it was given, either through labor, materials, or cash. The schools were community projects and, when completed, were the source of immense community pride. To the communities they served, the Rosenwald Schools were the way up for the next generations. As these structures disappear from the landscape, Virginia is losing an important tangible link to a story of struggle, survival, and the power of education; it is a story that shaped our history.
Directions to the Kremlin School:
Address: Jerusalem Baptist Church Annex: formerly Kremlin School, 87 Antioch Road, Kremlin, Virginia
Take Virginia Route 3 east from Montross towards Warsaw, Virginia. Turn left onto Virginia Route 612 (Antioch Road). Proceed 3 miles to Kremlin School. The school will be on the right side of the road (the sign will read “Jerusalem Baptist Church Annex, formerly Kremlin School.” Parking will be adjacent to the school.
About the speakers:
Stephanie Deutsch is married to David Deutsch, a great grandson of Julius Rosenwald. It was this connection that led to her fascination with the story of Rosenwald’s relationship with Booker T. Washington and the building of the Rosenwald schools. Stephanie was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Arlington, Virginia, with periods overseas because her father was in the Foreign Service. Despite going to high school at a lycée in France and majoring in Russian Studies in college, Stephanie loves American history and finds that the story of Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington is a powerful prism through which to consider it. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and has four grown children.
Mr. Fisher, a 49-year-old funeral director and pastor from Oldhams, has represented the county’s 1st District since 1992. Fisher is a member of the county NAACP and Democratic Party and has also served on the board of Northern Neck Regional Jail, the Westmoreland County-Montross Sewer Authority, and the local social services board.
Event development background:
This is the second annual partnership program hosted by the A. T. Johnson Museum and Stratford Hall, and the first taken into the community in order to explore unique and important topics that will reach a diverse audience. The Jerusalem Annex: Rosenwald School at Kremlin, Virginia, seeks to preserve a legacy of commitment to the vital importance of education and community involvement that will inform present generations of the impact that the Rosenwald-funded schools had on this African-American community of Westmoreland County.
The Rosenwald Rural School Building Program
The Rosenwald rural school building program was a major effort to improve the quality of public education for African-Americans in the early twentieth-century south. In 1912, Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, gave Booker T. Washington permission to use some of the money he had donated to Tuskegee Institute for the construction of six small schools in rural Alabama, which were constructed and opened in 1913 and 1914. Pleased with the results, Rosenwald then agreed to fund a larger program for schoolhouse construction based at Tuskegee. In 1917 he set up the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a Chicago-based philanthropic foundation, and in 1920 the Rosenwald Fund established an independent office for the school building program in Nashville, Tennessee. By 1928, one in every five rural schools for black students in the South was a Rosenwald school, and these schools housed one third of the region’s rural black schoolchildren and teachers. At the program’s conclusion in 1932, it had produced 4,977 new schools, 217 teachers’ homes, and 163 shop buildings, constructed at a total cost of $28,408,520 to serve 663,615 students in 883 counties of 15 states.
There were 382 Rosenwald Schools and support buildings built in Virginia. These schools are found in every region of Virginia (except the four counties in the Appalachian region in the far southwest). They range from small, one-teacher schools, to larger industrial education schools found in cities. Because all of the schools were constructed from the same sets of plans, they all have a similar appearance, making them easy to recognize once you know what to look for.