Unlocking the Doors of Opportunity
Thanks to Jim Crow, North Carolina ignored its constitutional responsibility and woefully underfunded schools for African American children in the early 20th century. A scheme hatched by Booker T. Washington, the nation's best-known Black educator, and Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck, helped break Jim Crow's grip on school funding practices. As a result, nearly 800 schools for Black children were built in the Tar Heel State, mostly in rural areas. Nearly 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were constructed in 15 states, mainly in the South. Rosenwald Schools changed the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of African American youth, including some of North Carolina's most famous Black citizens.