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The Rosenwald Schools

A typical Rosenwald school building
Charlotte's All-Black Schools

From 1917 to 1932, Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald donated millions of dollars to build schools for black children throughout the rural South. He gave half the money needed and required that the black and white community work to raise the other half. Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., helped build more than 5,000 schools in 15 states. There were 813 of the schools in North Carolina. Twenty-six were in Mecklenburg County.

Rosenwald schools -- characteristically, wooden buildings with big banks of windows -- were designed to accommodate one to four teachers. Many were built next to churches. Rosenwald schools began to be phased out during the 1940s and 1950s, when school buses started transporting children to more centrally located schools. Many were demolished. Today, only ten Rosenwald schools remain in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Since the early 1990s, the congregation of McClintock Presbyterian Church has worked to restore the old Rosenwald school on its site. Church and community members have raised money through donations and grants to renovate the building. They feel that Rosenwald schools are an important part of African American heritage.


An African American Album: The Black Experience in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, vol. 2. Charlotte, NC. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1998.