Dozens of people turned out on Saturday to participate in the Black History Month celebration at Colbert-Rosenwald School in Dayton. The historic school, located at 231 Colbert St., once served as a schoolhouse for black students in the Dayton community before integration in 1967-68 joined the campus with Dayton ISD.
After integration, the school building was used to house fifth-grade Dayton ISD students, though today it is set aside as a museum and cultural center that preserves the school’s history and the legacy of its former students, known as Colbert Tigers.
The Colbert-Rosenwald School in Dayton was established in 1933 through a grant from the Rosenwald Foundation. Julius Rosenwald, president and CEO of Sears Roebuck and Co., provided funding for the construction of 5,000 schools in the U.S. primarily for black students.
“He was a philanthropist. He happened to meet Booker T. Washington through a friend of his, Carl Sachs. Essentially Rosenwald was convinced by Booker T. Washington to use funds that were residuals from when Booker T. was able to get funding for Tuskegee University,” explained Diane Paul Louviere, president of the Colbert-Rosenwald Organization in Dayton from 2011 to 2021, at Saturday’s gathering.
“He indicated he would like to use the money to build a few model schools. Young people in the south, including this area, went to school in terrible conditions, so Rosenwald and Washington collaborated, and by 195, they had built model schools in the Shiloh area of Alabama,” she said.
Despite students’ humble beginnings at Colbert-Rosenwald School, many graduates have gone on to accomplishment greatness in various fields, according to Louviere, who is among the school’s alumni.
Following Louviere was James Grays, current president of Colbert-Rosenwald Organization. He cited the school’s mission statement is to “provide a cultural enrichment center, to house artifacts and memorabilia representative of the school’s African-American community during the period of 1927 through 1967.”