Google+

Reverential Biopic Chronicles Career of Forgotten Jewish Philanthropist

Rosenwald

Film Review by Kam Williams

Reverential Biopic Chronicles Career of Forgotten Jewish Philanthropist

Julius Rosenwald was born on August 12, 1862 in Springfield, Illinois to a couple of German-Jewish immigrants who met each other in the U.S. His father was a traveling salesman who plied his trade by foot until he was able
Rosenwald, Film Review by Kam Williamsto save enough money to afford a horse.

Raised in a house located right across the street from the home of President Abraham Lincoln, Julius dropped out of high school and moved to New York City to learn the ins-and outs of the garment industry. The aspiring clothier was befriended there by Henry Goldman, co-founder of Goldman Sachs.investment bank and a future financier of his business ventures.

Julius eventually moved to Chicago where he not only started a family with his wife Gussie but embarked on an enviable career as an entrepreneur. By 1906, he’d parlayed his success into a 50% stake in Sears Roebuck, and he subsequently orchestrated its expansion from a mail order catalog company into a mammoth, department store chain. And, by the time he retired as CEO, he’d accumulated a fortune which, adjusted for inflation, would amount to over a billion in today’s dollars.

Believe it or not, that impressive accomplishment pales in comparison to Julius’s considerable cultural contributions as a philanthropist. For, as a devout Jew, he took to heart his faith’s solemn mandate to engage in compassionate charitable activities.

He was outraged by the disgraceful mistreatment of African-Americans in the South where most were denied access to decent public schools and libraries, based on the “separate but equal” rationale sanctioned by the Jim Crow system of segregation.  After all, white supremacy was predicated on the belief that the education of minorities was a threat to be denied at all costs.

So, in 1912, Julius decided to join forces with Booker T. Washington in order to afford black Southerners a fair shot at the American Dream. Between then and his death in 1932, he would underwrite the construction of over 5,500 school buildings in poor, rural African-American communities. By the time he was done, a third of all black kids living in the South would be attending one of his institutions.

Rosenwald, Film Review by Kam Williams

Of course, this development rankled inveterate racists, and many a Rosenwald school became the target of the Ku Klux Klan torch. Not one to be easily discouraged, however, Julius quickly resurrected any edifice burned to the ground, some on more than one occasion.

It is important to note that Julius did not restrict his philanthropic efforts to the South. For instance, he opened YMCAs for blacks in 25 cities where the organization’s facilities were designated “White Only,” including his hometown of Chicago. He also erected Rosenwald Courts, an upscale apartment complex in the Windy City which became home to Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Quincy Jones and other icons.

In addition, he sponsored substantial scholarships for promising African-American artists and academics, whether they were living in the U.S. or abroad. Among that program’s beneficiaries were Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gordon Parks, Jacob Lawrence, Ralphe Bunche, Dr. Charles Drew and Marian Anderson, to name a few.     

Directed by Aviva Kempner (The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg), Rosenwald is an inspirational and informative documentary which belatedly gives a little-known humanitarian his due. Paying homage, here, are a number of luminaries like Congressman John Lewis, director George C. Wolfe, Pulitzer Prize-winner Eugene Robinson and the late poet laureate Maya Angelou, each of whom is a grateful alum of a Rosenwald school.

A touching bio about a selfless, self-made billionaire who’d probably prefer to be remembered as a tireless proponent of the notion that black lives matter.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 90 minutes

Distributor: Ciesla Foundation

For theatrical screening information in your area, visit: www.rosenwaldfilm.org  

                                                                         

 

   

Entertainment

For movies opening June 24, 2016

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules: Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening June 24, 2016 BIG BUDGET FILMS Free State of Jones (R for brutal battle scenes and disturbing images) Civil War saga about a white Mississippian (Matthew McConaughey) who leads  fellow farmers and former slaves in an uprising against the Confederacy. Supporting cast includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali. Independence Day: … [Read More its Good for You...]

Books

Blood Brothers

  Blood Brothers The Fatal Friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith Basic Books Hardcover, $28.99 392 pages, Illustrated ISBN: 978-0-465-07970-4 Book Review by Kam Williams “[This book] is the story of how Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and the central role Malcolm X played in his life. It is a tale of friendship and brotherhood, love and deep affection. It is also a story of deceit, betrayal, and violence--inside and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

ART EXHIBITION: 150 Years After The Civil War

  Cynthia Groya 150 Years After The Civil War: A Contemporary Perspective January 10 - March 6, 2016 Artist's Reception: Sunday, January 24, 3:00 - 5:00 pm Nassau Club 6 Mercer Street  Princeton, NJ 08540 The ideas reflected in Groya's paintings express a conversation about struggle for equal rights in our culture, in our time. The origin of this struggle can be traced to The Civil War in our country, which ended 150 years ago. The … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent from sales one year ago. The … [Read More its Good for You...]

Lifestyle

A Holler from Mahershala!

  Mahershala Ali The “Free State of Jones” Interview with Kam Williams A Holler from Mahershala! Born in Oakland and raised in neighboring Hayward, California, Mahershala Ali received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications at St. Mary's College. He made his professional debut performing with the California Shakespeare Festival in Orinda, California. Soon thereafter, he earned his Master's degree in Acting from New York University's prestigious graduate … [Read More it Good for You...]

Outdoors

Yamaha Propeller Selector, Endless Propeller Solutions

  Yamaha Propeller Selector, Endless Propeller Solutions   The Yamaha Propeller selection page on Yamaha’s webpage is a great tool for every boat owner as a tool not only to make sure the correct prop is on their boat but also gives the ability and freedom to change the prop with ease, depending on the application. Everyone knows the equipment used for bass fishing is not the same for chasing tuna offshore, and the same logic applies to selecting a prop. At … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Tiger Woods Opts Out of U.S. Open, Quicken Loans

  Tiger Woods Opts Out of U.S. Open, Quicken Loans By Burt Carey Tiger Woods isn’t ready to stage a comeback just yet. The 14-time major champion sent messages via Twitter and his website Tuesday that he would not be competing at either the U.S. Open at Oakmont next week or the PGA Tour’s Quicken Loans tournament the following week. "While I continue to work hard on getting healthy, I am not physically ready to play in this year's U.S. Open and the Quicken … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Feds Eyeing a Crackdown on Predatory Payday Lenders

  Feds Eyeing a Crackdown on Predatory Payday Lenders By Burt Carey The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing new regulations designed to place limits on excessively high-interest loans issued by short-term lenders. The CFPB proposal would require so-called payday lenders to prove borrowers have an ability to repay a loan by the time it comes due – usually by the borrower’s next pay period – without having to renew the loan or take out a new … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Delta Becomes Airline Industry’s Leading Edge for Good and Bad

  Delta Becomes Airline Industry’s Leading Edge for Good and Bad By Burt Carey Last week’s airline news flash was a huge splash by Delta Air Lines that its in-flight entertainment system would become free to domestic and international passengers beginning July 1. That put the Atlanta-based airline back on point, leading the industry down a supposed path toward improved customer service. Earlier this year Delta was again at the forefront of domestic U.S. … [Read More its Good for You...]

Google+