LIVING LEGACY is a short film that tells the story of the Historic Russell School, the only surviving Rosenwald School in Durham County in North Carolina.
Rosenwald Schools resulted from the remarkable and underappreciated partnership between Jewish philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald and former slave and leader of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington. Rosenwald and Washington worked together during the beginning of the 20th century to fund and construct more than 5,300 schoolhouses for African American children in the segregated South. For each schoolhouse Rosenwald promised to fund a portion of the cost of the school if the African American community and the white community could raise the remaining funds. Though the project began in 1912 with six rural schoolhouses near the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, by the 1930s Rosenwald Schools were widespread across the South, ultimately transforming African American education.
LIVING LEGACY documents a community’s effort to preserve a historic and undervalued building and celebrate the work, sacrifices, and memories of their forebears who attended the school. The film captures the vivid school-day memories of the Russell School’s living alumni as well as the passion of the school’s board members who work persistently to maintain the school and share its history. The film also treats the building as a character allowing the physical space to express its own memories and develop a unique voice.
Premiere: March 26 at 2pm, Full Frame Theater
Encore: April 15 at 3pm, Ruby Film Theater