Tallahassee Hazlehurst Rosenwald School

Tallahassee Hazlehurst Rosenwald School

This aging, deteriorated building in the Tallahassee community probably should be listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, if it isn’t already. Known today as the Tallahassee Hazlehurst Rosenwald School, it is one of more than 5,000 schools, shops, and teacher homes in the U.S. built by the Rosenwald Project, primarily for the education of African-American children in the South during the early 20th century.

The project was the product of the partnership of Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish-American clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company and the African-American leader, educator, and philanthropist Booker T. Washington, who was president of the Tuskegee Institute.

The need arose from the chronic underfunding of public education for African-American children in the South, as black people had been discriminated against at the turn of the century and excluded from the political system in that region. Children were required to attend segregated schools. In some communities, surviving structures have been preserved because of the deep meaning they had for African Americans as symbols of the dedication of their leaders and communities to education.

In Georgia, three former Rosenwald Schools were preserved by the efforts of former students and Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division, leading to their being listed on the National Register of Historic Places by 2001. Several have been commemorated through the Georgia Historical Marker Program, including schools in Paulding, Macon, Brooks and Bartow counties.