Published on 23 July 2015

New film, ‘Rosenwald,’ tells story of Jewish philanthropist who transformed black lives

Rosenwald invested in African-American causes in the early 1900s and changed the course of education for thousands of children in the rural South.

By Lisa Hostein, published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency July 17, 2015
Alex Bethea, the son of cotton and tobacco farm workers, was in sixth grade in 1965 when his family moved from Dillon, South Carolina, to the tiny town of Fairmont, North Carolina, where he attended a school called Rosenwald.
But it wasn’t until this week, 50 years later, that Bethea learned that his school was named for Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish philanthropist who is the subject of a new documentary by Aviva Kempner. The film tells the little-known story of Rosenwald’s contribution to African-American culture and education.
The revelation came at a July 14 session at the national convention of the NAACP, which drew several thousand delegates to Philadelphia. Bethea was one of some 70 people who attended a screening of the film, “Rosenwald.”
“Julius Rosenwald had a great impact on my life, and I didn’t even know it,” said Bethea, now a vice principal at an elementary school in New Jersey. “This helps me put the pieces of the puzzle of my life together”... Read more.