Moton to hold Rosenwald meeting

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Preservation Virginia — a private, statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization based in Richmond — will be hosting a Rosenwald School Network Meeting March 2 at the Robert Russa Moton Museum from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. According to a press release, the public is invited to “explore the history of Rosenwald schools in Virginia and get a first look at the early findings from phase one of our statewide Rosenwald school survey as well as the survey findings of archaeology students at Longwood University.”

According to Preservation Virginia Director of Preservation Initiatives and Engagement Justin Sarafin, Rosenwald schools are historic African-American schools.

“We’ve been working on the topic of Rosenwald schools and historic African-American schools since 2013,” Sarafin said. “In that time we’ve had three meetings. This will be the fourth meeting of what I’ve kind of dubbed the Rosenwald school network.”

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He said the network is a group of people from throughout the state.

“These are people who are alumni of Rosenwald schools or family members of alumni of Rosenwald schools,” Sarafin said. “They are sometimes local government officials, private owners of Rosenwald schools, academics or preservationists or architects who have worked or are working on Rosenwald schools. It’s a networking meeting really. It’s to pull everyone together that’s working on this project.”

He said one of the main topics for the meeting is to introduce the statewide mobile survey tool.

“This is a tool that we’ve designed to map Rosenwald Schools throughout the state. We know where a lot of them are but ones that have been demolished, we want to know where they once stood,” Sarafin said. “There are still ones that we haven’t accounted for yet of the more than 360 that were built in Virginia, we still have a good number that are unaccounted for.”

He said it’s going to be local knowledge from communities that’s going to help the organization locate all of the schools.

According to the press release, the Rosenwald rural school building program was a major effort conceived by Booker T. Washington and funded in part by Julius Rosenwald to improve the quality of public education for African-Americans in the south. Between 1917 and 1932, more than 360 Rosenwald schools were built in Virginia.

To view a summary of Preservation Virginia’s work so far regarding their initiative, visit: