For release: April 21, 2010
For press information, contact Jenny Hornby, 573-620-4709
Between 1912 and 1932, philanthropist Julius Rosenwald donated millions of dollars
to help develop nearly 5,000 African-American rural schools throughout the South.
Shelby County had the largest number of Rosenwald-funded buildings in Tennessee, with
61 schools, four teachers’ homes and three shop buildings.
An exhibit at the University of Memphis will spotlight some of these schools and celebrate
the rich heritage of Memphis. “African-American Education in Shelby County: The Rosenwald
Schools” will be on display April 26-May 14 at the Ned R. McWherter Library, in the
rotunda and on the second floor. An opening reception will be held April 26 at noon
on the second floor of the library. The reception and exhibit are free and open to
The collection includes photographs and historical documents uncovered during research
by Jenny Hornby, Chantal Drake and Michelle Williams, graduate students in art history
at the U of M. Highlighting the historically black Manassas, Melrose, Wells and Cordova
schools, the exhibit explores how these early 20th-century schools were cornerstones
of local African-American communities, creating an enduring impact on Memphis and
the surrounding area.
The exhibit also features contemporary images by Michael Darough, an MFA photography
student in the Department of Art.
Born in 1863 in Springfield, Ill., Rosenwald was a noted businessman and philanthropist.
He started his career as a clothing manufacturer and later became a part owner of
Sears Roebuck and Co. The company prospered under his leadership, and he was named
president in 1908. The millions of dollars he earned during his 16 years of service
were returned in large measure to the American public.
Rosenwald began his substantial contribution to African-American education in 1911
when he formed a partnership with Booker T. Washington. Together they established
the Julius Rosenwald Fund that aimed to provide a quality education to African-American
children in the rural South.
The exhibit is made possible with the support of the Department of Art and the McWherter
Library. Following the exhibition, the resource materials and historical information
will be accessible to the public in the Special Collections Department of the library.
For more information, contact Jenny Hornby at 573-620-4709 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tom Mendina at 901-678-4310 or email@example.com.