Help Save Siloam School
During the Jim Crow era, Mecklenburg County had more Rosenwald schools for African-American children than any other county in America. What can we learn from the experiences of students who attended Mecklenburg’s Rosenwald Schools? Can their observations help us address 21st-century social-justice issues?
The Charlotte Museum of History is partnering with Silver Star Community, Inc, The Tribute Companies, Pixelatoms, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, and many others to preserve this important artifact of Charlotte’s African-American community and give it renewed life as a community center. And we need your help!
What are Rosenwald Schools?
In the early 20th century, educator Dr. Booker T. Washington conceived of a program to build high-quality, free schools for African-American children throughout the segregated rural South. He enlisted the aid of Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., to finance the effort, and they created the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The program offered matching funds and architectural plans to communities that wanted to build schools for black students. The partnership produced more than 5,000 schools in the South in the early 1900s – 813 of them in North Carolina and 26 in Mecklenburg County, the most of any county in America. By 1928, one-third of the South’s rural African-American school children and teachers were served by Rosenwald Schools.
The Rosenwald Fund did not contribute to the building of Siloam School, but the school was built according to Rosenwald plans. For more about Rosenwald Schools in Mecklenburg County, we recommend Dr. Tom Hanchett’s excellent website, HistorySouth.org.
The Charlotte Museum of History is working to develop a detailed plan for re-locating the Siloam School, stabilizing the structure, and working with the community to find new uses for it. CMH will also use the structure as a teaching resource, a window into aspects of life of rural African-America families in Mecklenburg County in the early 20th-century – and a prism through which we can better view issues of social-justice in the 21st-century.
Please join us in the effort to Save Siloam School. Give a donation; volunteer to help the Museum bring more awareness to this cause; and learn more about the Rosenwald Schools in Mecklenburg County. We look forward to working with you, and thank you for your support of this important preservation project!