June 11, 2003

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Rose State organizes documenting of Rosenwald Schools

In 1913, Julius Rosenwald, the millionaire CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company, teamed with Booker T. Washington on an innovative program to improve education for blacks in the south. Over the next 20 years, the Rosenwald Fund used a system of matching grants to help construct more than 5,300 school buildings in 15 Southern and Southwestern states.
Now, according to the National Trust for Historical Preservation, these modest schools are quickly disappearing. Although there are historic records regarding the schools, there is limited information about their current status.

Rose State College GEAR UP Director Shenethia Manuel and 23 10th grade GEAR UP students from Star Spencer Mass Media and Communications High School in Spencer, Okla., are doing their part to raise awareness of the schools by documenting those schools in rural Oklahoma.

"It's a social studies project for the students that's helping them build their research and writing skills," Dr. Manuel said.
Their yearlong study of the Rosenwald schools culminated with an educational trip to Memphis, Tenn., May 20-23 to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, the Mississippi River and other cultural and historical landmarks. When the school year begins in the fall, the same students will continue with the project after school hours through their senior year.

Story Contact: Vicki Patterson, Rose State College