February 8, 2016
Oklahoma History Center to Host Screening of Documentary Film, "Rosenwald"
Oklahoma City, Okla. — On Tuesday, February 23, the Oklahoma History Center will host a screening of the documentary film "Rosenwald: The Remarkable Story of a Jewish Partnership with African American Communities." The acclaimed director, Aviva Kempner, also directed "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" and "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg." The documentary is presented by the National Center for Jewish Film. The doors will open at 6 p.m. and the film screening begins at 7 p.m. Attendees are invited to view the African American exhibit in the Oklahoma History Center's Kerr-McGee gallery from 6–7 p.m. This film screening is free, but seating is limited so an early arrival is recommended.
Aviva Kempner's "Rosenwald" is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, the son of an immigrant peddler who never finished high school, but rose to become the President of Sears. Influenced by the writings of the educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African American communities during the Jim Crow South to build over 5,300 schools during the early part of the 20th century.
"Rosenwald" sheds light on this silent partner of the pre-Civil Rights Movement. Rosenwald awarded fellowship grants to a who's who of African American intellectuals and artists of his day so that they could pursue their scholarship and art. This included Marian Anderson, James Baldwin, Ralph Bunche, W. E. B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Ralph Ellison, John Hope Franklin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gordon Parks, Jacob Lawrence and Augusta Savage along with Woody Guthrie.
Inspired by the Jewish ideals of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) and a deep concern over racial inequality in America, Julius Rosenwald used his wealth to become one of America's most effective philanthropists. Rosenwald also built YMCAs and housing for African Americans to address the pressing needs of the Great Migration. Because of his modesty, Rosenwald's philanthropy and social activism are not well known today. He gave away $62 million in his lifetime.
The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.