Tag Archives: virginia

New Documentary on Rosenwald Schools

The history of black education in America is difficult to separate from the legacy of the Rosenwald Schools. Julius Rosenwald, who rose to be President of Sears and Roebucks, charity built nearly 5,000 schools in the segregated South for black children. Black parents paid a “double tax” to get the schools built and operated in the 14 states of the South, as on top of their normal state and local taxes, they had to raise and donate about 14% of the cost of the school – which I will detail in the second article below.

Julius Rosenwald, center, started the Rosenwald Fund to help build schools in the segregated South. “Rosenwald” is a new documentary by filmmaker Aviva Kempner.

Rosenwald’s generosity captured in new film

In age that exalts politicians and entertainers who can’t stop telling us how wonderful they are, it is refreshing to honor a man who accomplished a lot without wanting his name on all of it.

Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school but rose to become president and co-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., didn’t want his name on the store that he led to worldwide success.

Rosenwald, who died in 1932, didn’t want his name on Chicago’s magnificent Museum of Science and Industry, although he funded and promoted it so much that many Chicagoans called it “the Rosenwald museum” anyway.

He didn’t want his name on his other edifices, including more than 5,000 schools that he helped fund for black schoolchildren across the segregated South.

Yet, alumni of those schools still call them “the Rosenwald schools.” I know. Some of those alumni are in my family.

I discovered that tidbit of family information in the way journalists often stumble across information about themselves while pursuing stories about somebody else.

I was being interviewed by Washington, D.C., filmmaker Aviva Kempner for her new documentary, “Rosenwald,” when she asked if any of my southern relatives, most of them in Alabama, attended Rosenwald schools. I didn’t know, I said, but it was possible. I have a lot of cousins.

I later asked my cousin Willie Howard, a whiz in the telecommunications industries, and he broke out in a big grin. “We all did,” he said.

Alumni more famous than my cousins include poet-author Maya Angelou, director George C. Wolfe, U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, all of whom are interviewed in the film.

Indeed, Kempner’s “Rosenwald,” now in select theaters, may well leave you convinced that former United States poet laureate Rita Dove, another Rosenwald school alum, was right when she called the Rosenwald Fund “the single most important funding agency for African-American culture in the 20th century.”

Besides underwriting the mostly rural grade schools, the Rosenwald Fund awarded fellowships to such rising stars as classical vocalist Marian Anderson, poet Langston Hughes, painter Jacob Lawrence, photographer Gordon Parks and writers James Baldwin, Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison.

The most intriguing question, among the many that the film explores, is why Rosenwald, whose father immigrated from Germany in 1851 with $20 in his pocket, was so modest yet so generous.

As the late civil rights leader Julian Bond, whose father and uncle were Rosenwald fellows, puts it in the film, “He did not have to care about black people, but he did.”

The answer, Rosenwald’s biographers say, can be found in his faithfulness to the Jewish ideals of “tzedakah” (charity) and “tikkun olam” (repairing the world).

According to Stephanie Deutsch, author of the 2011 book “You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South,” Rosenwald said in one of his speeches that “We like to look down on the Russians because of the way they treat the Jews, and yet we turn around, and the way we treat our African-Americans is not much better.”

Rosenwald was also influenced by Booker T. Washington, conservative founder of the Tuskegee Institute, who suggested the funding of schools as the best investment for the future of black America.…More…


Rosenwald Schools

By: Dr. Alyce Miller, associate professor of history at John Tyler Community College and Dr. Brian J. Daugherity, assistant professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University

The Rosenwald school building program, in many ways the brainchild of Virginia-born and Hampton-educated Booker T. Washington, occurred during the period of segregation and Jim Crow across the American South. Segregated school systems were supposed to be, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), “separate and equal,” but in reality educational systems for African Americans in Virginia and the South were anything but. This made the funds provided by educational grant programs such as the Rosenwald Fund so significant.

Rosenwald schools were public schools that were built using matching grant funds. The Rosenwald Fund required matching funds from any combination of public and private sources. According to Julius Rosenwald Fund records (JRF), the JRF helped construct 367 schools, three teacher’s homes, and eleven school (industrial) shops in Virginia. Of the total cost of Rosenwald-associated buildings, grounds, and equipment in Virginia from 1917 through 1932, African Americans contributed 22%, white contributions totaled 1%, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15%, and state and local government contributions equaled 62%. In the fifteen states in the South where the school building program operated, African Americans collectively contributed 17% of the funds, the Rosenwald Fund contributed 15% of the funds, private white contributions totaled 4% of the funds, and public funds made up the remaining 64% of the funds. Without the organization of local African American communities willing to pay what historian James D. Anderson referred to as the “double tax,” these schools would not have been built.

In late Fall 2015, VCU Special Collections will launch an online exhibit, Black Education in Goochland County: From Rosenwald Schools through Brown v. Board of Education, comprised of research and oral history interviews related to African American educational activism in Virginia and, specifically, Goochland County. The interviews and research were conducted by Dr. Alyce Miller, Dr. Brian Daugherity, and Cris Silvent, associate professor of art at John Tyler Community College.

The local activism surrounding Rosenwald schools continues today in movements throughout the Commonwealth to preserve the histories, and structures, of these schools. John Tyler Community College (and the Virginia Community College system) has been working on an initiative to increase student engagement and success using student and faculty involvement in Rosenwald school activities. The excitement and commitment surrounding this activism provides us with an opportunity to engage the younger generation in this history and in education in general. We have also partnered with Preservation Virginia (among others) to create a larger network of Rosenwald school information across the Commonwealth.

In today’s featured image, you can see the number of Rosenwald schools built in counties throughout Virginia. You can find more information on the number of schools built in each county in Virginia (and throughout the South) by accessing the Rosenwald Schools Database at Fisk University. This is available online here. Schools were not often named after Julius Rosenwald, at his own request.

This short documentary (not the one Paige discusses above) is about the restoration of the Russell School in North Carolina

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Black History


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Policeman Indicted in KIlling of Portsmouth, Virginia Teen

The reason the racist right is in a near frenzy to attack BlackLivesMatter …

Is quite simply that the BLM Movement has gained traction.  We have seen more indictments of Police for egregious and illegal behavior this year, than I dare say in the last 20 years.

Which is pissing the racist right off. Now, more than ever they need folks who will deny what is going on….And it is a sellers market for any low moral Negro who is willing to buckdance.

Virginia Cop Indicted In Murder Of Unarmed Black Teen

WIlliam Chapman II

Portsmouth, Virginia, officer Stephen Rankin was indicted on a first-degree murder charge Thursday after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old earlier this year.

A grand jury decided to charge Rankin, who shot and killed William Chapman II outside a Walmart on April 22, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Autopsy reports obtained by the paper show that Chapman was shot in the face and chest, and that his body was carted off to the city medical examiner’s office with his hands cuffed behind his back.

“After a methodical deliberation of a thorough investigation by the Virginia state police, the state’s attorney determined that William Chapman was murdered by a police officer,” Chapman family attorney Jon Michael Babineau told The Guardian. “Today, the citizens of Portsmouth agreed.”

The Guardian reports on the incident:

The pair had engaged in a physical struggle after Rankin tried to arrest the 18-year-old on suspicion of shoplifting, according to police.

Witnesses said Chapman broke free and then stepped back towards the officer aggressively before being shot twice. The 18-year-old was the second unarmed man shot dead by Rankin in Portsmouth. An autopsy indicated Chapman was not shot at close range.

The shooting was investigated by the Virginia State Police, which passed its investigation to Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales earlier this month. She said last week that she’d seek an indictment in Chapman’s death.

Rankin’s lawyer said the cop’s actions were justified.

“He gives Mr. Chapman commands, and it’s at that point Mr. Chapman charges at him and the officer had to respond,” Nicole Belote told WTKR.

Officer Rankin

Rankin was in the media spotlight in 2011 when he shot and killed another unarmed man, Kirill Denyakin, though he was cleared of all wrongdoing. Denyakin’s lawyer told 13 News Now that he was “unsurprised” the latest incident occurred and “thought he would do this again.”

The vast majority of Police Officers never discharge their weapon in the line of duty. Hard to believe one officer could be involved into situations of confronting unarmed suspects and need to fire his weapon…

Which gets into why the First Degree Murder Charge.

Officer Rankin’s previous unarmed victim Kirill Denyakin, whom he shot 11 times…



Posted by on September 4, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter, Domestic terrorism


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So Much for the conservative “George Zimmerman isn’t a racist” meme

Hmmmm…didn’t take long for the bigot crew to latch on to the shooter’s race in the Virginia TV shooting yesterday….And even spuriously try and tie President Obama to the shooter…

George Zimmerman: Virginia “hate crime” shootings committed by “pansy” and condoned by “ignorant baboon” Barack Obama

George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin who was last seen hawking paintings of the Confederate battle flag that praised the Second Amendment, took to Twitter in the wake of yesterday’s shootings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward to condemn the “Black [piece of shit]” who murdered them and the “Ignorant Baboon” in the White House who mentioned gun control in his comments about their murders.

Presumably because he knows a thing or two about killing people in cold blood, Zimmerman expounded at Twitter-length on the murders of Parker and Ward, writing first that:

Pansy Fester lee Flanagan, too much of a daisy to deal w/racism. Murders 2 whites. Hate crime, 100%. Racist Obama says nothing condeming.

“Pansy” is, of course, a reference to the fact that the shooter, Vester Flanagan II, was a homosexual, which is relevant here because Zimmerman inexplicably chose to make it so. Flanagan’s motivations, at least as they were communicated in his 23-page-long manifesto, were based on a combination of a personal grudge against Ward and his feelings about the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year. But Zimmerman felt it necessary to denigrate his sexuality anyway, as well as complain about what to him was the lack of timely manner in which President Barack Obama addressed the murders:

White woman & man get murdered by a Black P.O.S. 8 hours later B. Hussein Obama the divider still says NOTHING.

Putting aside the fact that Zimmerman’s complained, at length, that Obama jumped to conclusions about him and spoke too soon about his killing of Martin, it’s worth noting that Obama did, in fact, address Parker and Ward’s murder yesterday, sayingthat it “breaks [his] heart every time [he] read[s] or hear[s] about these kinds of incidents,” and that “the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.”

“the # of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” – Ignorant Baboon


Posted by on August 27, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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Still Not Right in Danville – Lowes and the black delivery driver

If you read my post several days ago about the confederate flag coming down in Danville, Va – then you are familiar with some of the history.

Seems there are still a few die-hard bigots left. This one should have been a no-brainer for the managers at Lowes. Which is why same managers are now unemployed.

Lowe’s Delivery Man Called Back When Customer Asks For White Worker

A black Lowe’s delivery man says his employer instructed him not to make a delivery because a customer asked that the person who came to her door be white. The company said it took quick action to remedy the situation and to apologize to the driver, Marcus Bradley.

Bradley was on his way to make a delivery on July 27 when his manager at a Lowe’s store in Danville, Virginia, gave him a call, reported local ABC affiliate WSET.

“I got a phone call … telling me to bring the delivery back, saying that I couldn’t do the delivery,” Bradley told WSET.  “I asked him why I couldn’t do it and he said because you’re black and they don’t want you at the house.”

Lowe’s spokeswoman Chris Ahearn told The Huffington Post that the company took action within a couple days of finding out what had happened.

“The leaders at the store level who made the decision to hold the driver back, they are no longer with the company,” she said. “We have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

Terry Johnson, Lowe’s senior vice president of store operations, visited the store and personally apologized to the company’s drivers, Ahearn said.

“We feel we acted quickly and properly,” she added.

Ahearn declined to provide any information about the customer who made the request.

However, in an interview with WSET, the unidentified customer refused to apologize.

“I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it,” the woman said. “I don’t feel bad about nothing.”




Posted by on August 12, 2015 in The New Jim Crow


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Another Day…Another confederate Flag Down

The most violent part of the Civil Rights battle to desegregate was in Danville, Virginia.The violence, and threats against Civil RIghts demonstrators were as severe as any in the deep South.

Danville was the last Capital of the soon to be defeated confederacy. Some things die hard.


After 20 Years, Confederate Flag In ‘The Last Capitol Of The Confederacy’ Comes Down

The small town of Danville, Virginia has been locked in a contentious debate for several years over whether or not to remove a Confederate flag that flies in front of a city-owned historical museum. But late last Thursday night, the town’s city council officially voted to take down the rebel emblem, ending a 20-year stretch of waving the national flag of the Confederacy on public grounds.

According to, the Danville city council voted 7-2 last week to remove the Third National flag of the Confederacy from the lawn of the Sutherlin Mansion, a historic building which houses a museum paid for with public funds. The flag was erected in 1995 on the house’s lawn to commemorate its historical significance — namely, that it hosted the last official meeting of the Confederate presidential cabinet, making it the “Last Capitol of the Confederacy.”

The council meeting — one of several that addressed the issue over the years — was packed with supporters and opponents of the flag. Representatives from both camps waved American and Confederate flags and offered rival speeches to officials, but the council ultimately voted for its removal and dispatched a police offer to take it down.

“The Confederate flag must come down. We must stand on the words, ‘We believe that all men are created equal,’” Rev. William Avon Keen, president of the Virginia Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said in an address to the council.

The town’s controversy over the Confederate flag has raged for decades, but not necessarily because of local support to keep it flying. Rather, city council officials have long been frustrated by an odd legal conundrum: Local Confederate heritage groups argue that the flagpole constitutes a memorial to veterans, which would make it protected by an obscure section of Virginia law. Thus, when officials voted last November over whether to remove the ensign, the city council argued that “under Virginia law it does not have the legal authority to remove the Confederate flag.”

But that all changed last week, when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sent a letter to the city council directly addressing the issue. In an official opinion, Herring argued that Danville officials could remove the flagpole because it only recognizes the “historical significance” of the museum building, and thus doesn’t constitute a memorial to veterans.

“It is my view that [state law protecting memorials] applies to monuments commemorating certain wars and veterans of those wars, but not to monuments commemorating buildings,” Herring’sstatement read

here were some who were upset about the decision, however. As crowds gathered near the museum to watch the flag come down at around 9:00pm, several of the banner’s supporters shouted in anger as police removed it with the help of a crane. Meanwhile, the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has vowed to sue the city, arguing that the Attorney General’s opinion is only an opinion — not law. Local heritage groups also responded to the vote by putting up a large Confederate battle flags in various sections of the city over the weekend — but this time on private property.

Yet local news stations noted that some of the representatives who spoke in favor of the flag at the city council meeting were not from Danville, but from just over the state line in North Carolina. That area known to house a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan that staged a rally at the South Carolina State House last month in support of the Confederate flag.

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Posted by on August 11, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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The Virginia “Racial Integrity” Act, “WINS” and Melungeons


This from a movie – “Confederate States of America: If the South Would Have Won”... a “mockumentary”.

However – The Coon Chicken Inn actually existed

Meanwhile, between 1924 and 1950, a Walter Plecker in Virginia sought to “disappear” not only Virginia’s Native American Tribes – but to stop “race-mongering” resulting in the Virginia “Melungeons”. In his infamous 1943 Letter, Plecker specifically called out certain families in Virginia as a threat to racial purity. One of the families he attacked was part of my own.

Obsessed with the idea of white superiority, Plecker championed legislation that would codify the idea that people with one drop of “Negro” blood could not be classified as white. His efforts led the Virginia legislature to pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law that criminalized interracial marriage and also required that every birth in the state be recorded by race with the only options being “White” and “Colored.”

Plecker was proud of the law and his role in creating it. It was, he said, “the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in 4,000 years.”

Walter Ashby Plecker, in charge of the state’s vital statistics records, employed the law to classify all Virginians as “white” or “colored” and to classify the state’s Indians as “colored.” Plecker believed that some African Americans were attempting to pass as Indians and feared that Indians would attempt to pass as white. He obsessively documented each and every birth and marriage registration submitted to his agency and manipulated and distorted records to show that the genealogical heritage of Virginia’s Indians was so intermixed with Virginia’s African Americans that no real Indians existed.

Plecker’s obsession with racial integrity is well in evidence in this December 1943 letter and list of surnames by county of families that he believed were trying to “pass” for white or Indian. As State Registrar of Vital Statistics, he wrote many letters and directives to county officials were about specific individuals whom he felt were trying to pass as white. He often asked for evidence from the county clerk to prove the people in question were of African American descent. Plecker also regularly sent out alerts to the county officials, hospitals, doctors, midwives, and other healthcare workers and record keepers about families that he considered suspect. He instructed that these families were not to be allowed to be listed as white in any record or to be treated as white in any way, including attendance at white schools.

The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 recognized only two races, white and colored. The act required that a racial description of every person be recorded at birth, and made marriage between white persons and nonwhite persons a felony. Plecker developed the racial criteria behind the act and adhered strictly to the one-drop rule, a historical term originating in the South that holds that a person with any trace of African ancestry is considered black. The Racial Integrity Act was subject to the Pocahontas exception. Since many influential Virginia families claimed descent from Pocahontas, the legislature declared that a person could be considered white with as much as one-sixteenth Indian ancestry.



Much of Plecker’s belief system was “supported” by the eugenicist movement.

Those of you interested in historical research can read this book here.

In 1935, Plecker corresponded with Walter Gross, Hitler’s Bureau of Human Betterment and Eugenics director, asking to be kept abreast of their actions. In mentioning the Nazi sterilization of children born to white German mothers and black French fathers, he added, “I hope this work is complete and not one has been missed. I sometimes regret that we have not the authority to put some measures in practice in Virginia.”




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Posted by on August 3, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Gonna Need a Bigger Clown Bus

The official Double Decker Republican Clown Bus is at capacity with the entry of former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore…

Filling out the field to 18 declared candidates.

Of course…There is the sepeate Trump bus..

And the “Official Campaign Photo”…

Yet Another Republican Is Running For President. Seriously.

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore filed the necessary paperwork on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission to join the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the Associated Press reported.

Gilmore joins a large field seeking the 2016 nomination that includes former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, businessman Donald Trump and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

As most Virginians know, Mr. GIlmore will be the short clown on the left waving the confederate flag…

Gov. James S. Gilmore III today proclaimed April as Confederate History Month in Virginia but broke with recent tradition by adding a condemnation of slavery, managing not only to anger defenders of white Confederate heritage but to disappoint some civil rights leaders, too.


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