Mitchell Street Park


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 the workers.

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.