“A door to a new world can be found through the door of a schoolhouse.”
Dorothy S. Davidson
Burritt on the Mountain has recently held a groundbreaking celebration of a replica Rosenwald Schoolhouse. At the celebration the name of the building was announced as the Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse. This community schoolhouse will be a replica of some of the many thousands of structures built in the early 1900s for the education of African American students in the Jim Crow South.
Over 5,000 schools, teacher’s housing and other educational buildings were built through a collaborative effort between Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish philanthropist, Booker T. Washington and local black, and white, communities. If it weren’t for the Rosenwald Foundation, many students throughout the South would not have received an education, learned trades and skills which would be used in adulthood, or had an opportunity to leave the fields.
Burritt on the Mountain’s Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse will be open to the public when not in use for an educational program designed for local fourth grade students. Though the importance of the Rosenwald schools has recently been recognized, for many it has been too late. Most of these schools have been demolished. This makes the Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse even more essential. Burritt will use the school to promote this little known yet significant part of the African American story and will feature the school during our state’s Bicentennial in 2019.
The school will include two classrooms, a teacher’s room, an industrial room, and a permanent exhibit highlighting the story of the Rosenwald schools. The exhibit will touch on the friendship between Rosenwald and Washington and the creation of this program that affected generations of African American families.
The educational program designed for local fourth grade students will be a day of immersion in the life of a student of the early 1900s. The students will use the Historic Park, the Burritt Barnyard and enjoy an entire day of learning structured by the Burritt education department in association with the fourth grade teachers. This program has earned the support of all three local school systems.
The Dorothy Davidson Rosenwald Schoolhouse is scheduled to be finished in the summer of 2017 with classes beginning in the fall. For more information about the fourth grade programs call Tammy Cooney at 256-512-0145. For information about how to book a presentation for your local community group about the Rosenwald schoolhouses or how to donate call Caroline Buncick at 256-512-5570.