In 1911, a serendipitous partnership was formed between Black educator and intellectual Booker T. Washington and Jewish businessman Julius Rosenwald, and that partnership changed the face of the South. At the turn of the 20th century, Black public schools, where they existed at all, received a fraction of the funding afforded to white schools. The two men bonded over their shared belief that education was the path to progress and equality and, over the next two decades, they orchestrated the construction of nearly 5,000 schools in 15 states. Rosenwald schools, as they would later be known, were the only providers of public education for more than 35,000 students in Georgia alone. Educators in these schools empowered Black children to become poets, Tuskegee Airmen (primarily African American military pilots in WWII), actors and leaders and foot soldiers in the civil rights movement. The late Congressman John Lewis was educated in a Rosenwald school.

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