OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Ralph Ellison Foundation, in partnership with Temple B’nai Israel and the Respect Diversity Foundation, will host a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary film Rosenwald on Sunday, August 18 at 2 p.m. at the Temple, 4901 N. Pennsylvania Avenue, in Oklahoma City.
A group conversation, themed, “Education and Justice: Understanding and Reawakening the Black-Jewish Partnership” will follow the screening moderated by the Ellison Foundation’s executive director and founder Michael Owens.
“The Black and Jewish communities have a history of cooperation and support,” Owens said. “This unique relationship has stayed strong through some of the darkest days in the American experience. The story of Julius Rosenwald and Brooker T. Washington best illustrates this bond by their efforts of creating access to education for children denied these opportunities.”
This conversation will be conducted in the spirit of the Foundation’s In the Light Bulb Room series of public discussion forums.
Born in Oklahoma City, Ralph Waldo Ellison was a 20th Century African American novelist, literary critic, and scholar. He is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953.
Organizers of the event hope to “explore points of contact as well as build bridges between local Black and Jewish communities that have too often dealt with the tragic events and tense political climate of the last several years in isolation from one another,” stated the press release.
The film Rosenwald tells the story of how businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald joined with early 20th-century African-American leaders like Booker T. Washington to eventually build over 5,300 schools for underserved Black populations throughout the American South.
In addition to efforts like the Rosenwald Fellowships—which helped support African-American luminaries like W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, and our own Ralph Ellison—Rosenwald’s contributions to Black education helped set the stage for the successes of the American Civil Rights Movement years later.
The Foundation’s work includes projects such as conducting a reading clinic for area children, launching a new curriculum for teaching Ellison’s work in high schools, and presenting a series of creative writing workshops for adults, as well as fostering public conversations on race relations in America.
“If you’re tired of all the hate in the headlines lately, we hope you’ll join us as we gather in the spirit of respectful conversation, mutual enlightenment, and community building that our organization exists to promote,” Owens stated.
We hope you’ll join us as we learn together and build bridges between communities that can only become stronger when we stand united.
The public is invited to participate in this free event. Due to limited space, an RSVP is requested on the Temple’s website Registration for the event will begin at 1:30 p.m. The program will start promptly at 2 p.m.