From our self-guided tour: The Oxford (Rosenwald) School
The Oxford School was one of the nearly 5,000 schools built
through the combined philanthropic efforts of Julius Rosenwald and Booker T.
Washington. By the early 20th century, Rosenwald, then president of the retail
giant Sears and Roebuck, had become one of America’s leading philanthropists
through his Rosenwald Foundation. After a race riot erupted in his hometown of
Springfield, Illinois in 1908, Rosenwald went to work to find a project that
could help the African-American community.
After reading Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, Up From
Slavery, Rosenwald sought out the author
for help. Together they came up with a program to build 4,977 schools, 217
teacher’s homes, and 163 industrial shops in African-American communities.
While Rosenwald’s contribution was a sizeable $4.3 million dollars, that amount
represented only 15 percent of the total funding for the project. The remainder
was provided by state governments and local communities. Individual community members contributed not
only money – they donated land, building materials, labor, and even food for
Schools in Newton County were slow to integrate following the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1954. By 1964, only four of Georgia’s 197 school districts were desegregated.