Happy B’Day Julius Rosenwald (1862), Best known as part-owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co +  establishing the Julius Rosenwald Fund which donated $Millions to promote education and build nearly 5,000 schools  mainly in rural Southern African American communities.  About 500 still exist,   a few operate as schools but most that have been restored are community centers/museums.  His inspirational “T3” leadership style:

  • TEAMWORK: Collaborative owner-operator of one of America’s largest retail stores; Sears, Roebuck & Co. Oversaw the implementation of the “schedule system” that allowed departments to ship orders the same day, and orders from multiple departments the next day; an amazing achievement for the mercantile system of the early 1900s. These two actions were instrumental in the rapid rise of Sears’ profitability. Insisted on the need for honesty in the Sears catalogs. Insisted that the customers had to be kept happy, coining the phrase “Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back.” Created the Sears employee profit-sharing plan in 1916, one of the first in the nation; would serve as the company’s pension plan until 1977.  He also worked closely with Booker T. Washington to create the Rosenwald Schools Building Program.  Although of very different backgrounds, they had a lot in common and were great partners.
  • TONE: All the other pleasures of life seem to wear out, but the pleasure of helping others in distress never does.”  After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Rosenwald personally borrowed $7 million from the Chase National Bank to save all Sears employees who bought stock on margin from being ruined financially. He was a modest man who insisted that his name not be put on buildings to which he donated.  He had to fight the city of Chicago to keep his name off the Museum of Science and Industry, even though he was the founding donor.
  • TENACITY:  Rosenwald worked closely with Booker T. Washington and served on the Board of Directors of the Tuskegee Institute beginning in 1912 until his death in 1932.  “The horrors that are due to race prejudice come home to the Jew more forcefully than to others of the white race, on account of the centuries of persecution which they have suffered and still suffer.” During his lifetime, Rosenwald and his Fund donated over $70 million to schools, colleges, universities, museums, YMCAs for African Americans, Jewish charities, Jane Addams Hull House and the NAACP.   The rural school building program in southern states – “The Rosenwald Schools” – was one of the Fund’s signature achievements and resulted in over 5,000 schools, teacher homes and shops.  Another was the Rosenwald Fund Fellowship program that awarded almost 900 fellowships to highly talented people, mostly early in their careers; two-thirds of them were African Americans, including such people as Ralph Bunche, Dr. Charles Drew, Marian Anderson, writers James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, artist Jacob Lawrence and photographer Gordon Parks, to name just a few.

There is an active campaign underway to create a “Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historic Park.  It will be a worthy addition to our National Parks System.   For more information:

– Rear Admiral Paul Becker, USN (Ret) is a leadership professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.  He is the CEO of The Becker T3 Group, a platform for his motivational and national security keynote speaking. A former Naval Intelligence Officer, he’s successfully led large, diverse, high-performing teams afloat and ashore in peace, crisis and combat.  In 2016, The Naval Intelligence Community established “The Rear Admiral Becker ‘Teamwork, Tone, Tenacity Award for Leadership” in his honor

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