Tennessee State Museum and Fisk University Partner on Rosenwald Schools Symposium

'Building Community, Continuing the Legacy: A Rosenwald Schools of Tennessee Symposium' to take place September 15 and 16 at both locations.
Monday, August 28, 2023 | 11:18am
Rosenwald Symposium


Nashville, Tenn. – August 28, 2023 – Rosenwald School alumni, historians and the general public are invited to a free two-day event exploring the history and legacy of the schools and the communities that built and preserved them. Building Community, Continuing the Legacy: A Rosenwald Schools of Tennessee Symposium will take place September 15 at Fisk University and September 16 at the Tennessee State Museum. Presented in partnership by both the Tennessee State Museum and Fisk University, with support from the Tennessee State Museum Foundation and a grant from Humanities Tennessee, the event is offered in conjunction with the current Museum exhibition, Building a Bright Future: Black Communities and Rosenwald School in Tennessee, currently on view until February 25, 2024.

What are commonly referred to as Rosenwald Schools were the result of an initial partnership between Sears, Roebuck, and Co. president Julius Rosenwald, Tuskegee Institute president Booker T. Washington, and Black Communities throughout the South. Between 1912-1937, that partnership resulted in the construction of almost 5,000 schools for Black children across 15 southern states, including 354 in Tennessee. Rosenwald schools drove improvement in Black educational attainment and helped educate the generation who became leaders of the Civil Rights movement.

Admission to both days of the symposium are free and open to the public. To RSVP, and for more information, please visit https://tnmuseum.org/rosenwald-symposium.

Temporary Schedule (Subject to Change)

Friday, September 15 - Fisk University

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 pm. - Welcome Reception, Lunch, & Opening Remarks from Community Partners

1:45 p.m. - Break

2:00 p.m. - Session 1: Community Curation and Digitization

  • Dr. Doretha Williams | National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian)
  • Dr. Jocelyn Imani | National Director for the Black History and Culture program at Trust for Public Land

3:00 p.m. - Break

3:15 p.m. - Session 2: Fisk Presentation of Online Database Archives

4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. - Alumni Reception at Fisk University

Saturday, September 16 – Tennessee State Museum

9:00 a.m. - Reception w/ Tea, Coffee, and Pastries

9:30 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:40 a.m. - Session 1: History of Rosenwald Schools in Tennessee

  • Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle | MTSU

Jo Ann McClellan | African American Heritage Society of Maury County

10:50 - Break

11:00 - Session 2: Rosenwald School and Alumni Resources Across Tennessee

  • Ben Nance | TN Division of Archaeology
  • Dr. Carroll Van West | MTSU Center for Historic Preservation
  • Linda Wynn | Tennessee Historical Commission

12:30 p.m. - Lunch (Box Lunches Available)

1:30 p.m. – Keynote Session 3: Legacy & Community: Panel Discussion of Alumni Experiences

3:00 p.m. – Concluding Remarks 

3:30 p.m. – Self-Guided Visit to Building a Bright Future: Black Communities and Rosenwald Schools in Tennessee
About Tennessee State Museum

Celebrating its 86th Anniversary in 2023, the Tennessee State Museum, located on the corner of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational and digital programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit TNMuseum.org.

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Joe Pagetta
Director of Communications
(615) 741-5134