Photo caption: (L to R): Doris A. Johnson, Vyllorya Evans, Aviva Kempner, Thelma D. Jones.

The documentary Rosenwald was shown to an excited, full house on March 19 at WestminsterDC where Producer Aviva Kempner introduced the film and led a lively discussion. SW resident Vyllorya Evans and her friend, Doris A. Dearing Johnson, discussed their experiences at one of the 5,400 Rosenwald Schools. Doris attended Higison-Rosenwald in Aberdeen, Miss., where her mother, Ora Lee Bailey, was the principal. Vyllorya’s mother, Mary Helen Evans, taught at the same school. Present in the audience was SW resident Thelma D. Jones, who attended the Greene County Training School-South Greene High School in Snow Hill, NC.  Interviewed in the film was SW resident Kinshasha Holman Conwill, who is deputy director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, discussed the Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship her father, M. Carl Holman, received.

Rosenwald is the incredible story of Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school, but rose to become the president of Sears. Influenced by the writings of educator Booker T. Washington, the Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African-American communities during the Jim Crow South to build more than 5,400 schools during the early part of the 20th century.

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. Because of his modesty, Rosenwald’s philanthropy and social activism are not well known today. He gave away $62 million in his lifetime.

Thank you to the Southwest community for supporting the monthly Faith and Film showing at Westminster, where our purpose is to be inspired by films to foster discussions from our varied spiritual perspectives, cultures, and faith journeys.

WestminsterDC’s Faith & Film happens on the third Saturday of each month beginning with pizza and an introduction at 7 p.m. (reservations for pizza and donations accepted). The screening begins at 7:30 with captions as available for hearing impaired. Our next film is Dear White People on May 21. A social satire—being a black face in a white place—follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black face party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in our acutely not-post racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.

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