Author: Phyllis McClure

an independent researcher and writer. She died in 2010.
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Rosenwald Schools

Rosenwald schools were educational facilities built with the assistance of the Rosenwald rural school building program, an initiative to narrow racial schooling gaps in the South by constructing better, more-accessible schools for African Americans. They are called Rosenwald schools because they were partially funded by grants from the Rosenwald Fund, a foundation established by Julius Rosenwald, an Illinois businessman and philanthropist. Between 1912 and 1932, the program helped produce 5,357 new educational facilities for African Americans across fifteen southern states, providing almost 700,000 African American children in rural, isolated communities with state-of-the-art facilities at a time when little to no public money was put toward black education. In Virginia, the initiative helped fund 382 schools and support buildings in seventy-nine counties. Most of these buildings remained in operation until Virginia was forced to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which outlawed racial segregation in public schools. In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed all surviving Rosenwald schools on its list of America’s most endangered historic sites.

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Negro Organization Society

The Negro Organization Society was a grassroots advocacy association that stressed community self-improvement for African Americans in Virginia during the Jim Crow era. Founded in 1912 at the Hampton Institute by Robert Russa Moton, its motto was “Better Schools, Better Health, Better Homes, Better Farms.” Pursuit of these four goals was considered essential to the protection and welfare of black citizens, especially in rural areas where the great majority of Virginia’s African Americans lived. Over the years, the organization’s actions shifted from building schools to improving education by accrediting more institutions and improving teacher pay. By the 1950s, when the Negro Organization Society had begun to dissolve, the fight for African American civil rights had largely shifted from community and regional organizers to the court system.

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