Through the Rosenwald Fund, 1917-1932, the Rosenwald Schools transformed the futures of Black Americans.
On May 12, 2023, at 4 p.m. at Heritage Park (located at the southwest corner of N. Seacrest Boulevard and NW 10th Avenue), the Boynton Beach Historical Society, the Boynton Beach Historic Resources Preservation Board and the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation (JASHP) welcome the public to share in and witness the dedication of the first-ever Rosenwald Schools historical interpretive marker in Palm Beach County, Fla.
A “Good” partnership between two extraordinary men; one was born a slave who rose to become the President of the Tuskegee Institute (University) and an advisor to American Presidents, Dr. Booker T. Washington. The second was the son of Jewish immigrants who came to America to shelter from vicious antisemitism in Europe. He became the president of retailing giant Sears and Roebuck. Rosenwald used his fortune for the “improvement of mankind.”
Washington’s and Rosenwald’s combined efforts, each for different reasons, focused on mutual respect and the commonality of “Good” for America’s future. They transformed the lives of millions of Black Americans through education and opportunity.
The Rosenwald Fund was the vital key to the construction of 5,357 schools, teachers’ homes and training shops across the 15 states of the South. In time, one-third of all Black American children attended a Rosenwald school.
The text of the marker is as follows:
ROSENWALD SCHOOLS IN PALM BEACH COUNTY POINCIANA ELEMENTARY
“BOYNTON COLORED SCHOOL”
A school for black children was established before 1900 by members of the St. Paul AME Church. In 1907, the congregation petitioned the School Board for a teacher and built a small building on donated land. The school later received further assistance through a unique partnership involving a philanthropic businessman and a black educator.
Jewish-American philanthropist Julius Rosenwald was invited by Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington in 1912 to serve on their board of directors to help African American education. Segregated southern schools suffered from inadequate facilities and supplies. Their partnership initiated a school building fund in 1917 that provided seed money encouraging local collaborations between blacks and whites.
In 1925-26, the Boynton Colored School, renamed Poinciana in 1954, became the County’s first Rosenwald-funded school receiving seed money for a new building. Rosenwald funds were ultimately used to rebuild or construct schools and trade shops in 11 cities throughout the County. By 1932, Rosenwald helped fund 5,357 African American schools in 15 states.
JASHP donated the marker to the City of Boynton Beach, the Boynton Beach Historic Resources Preservation Board, and the Boynton Beach Historical Society. New JASHP Rosenwald markers are either planned or in fabrication in Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
JASHP has donated and placed more Rosenwald historical interpretive markers than any organization in the U.S.