We are proud to publicly release the world premiere of “Rosenwald: Toward A More Perfect Union,” an award-winning short documentary about the greatest philanthropist you’ve never heard of. With your help, we can create a new national historical park to commemorate this incredible story.

When we started the Parks Channel, we had several goals: showcasing amazing places to go, helping folks to get out there – and raising awareness of places and people that played an indelible role in our national heritage. But we must confess, when we heard about this campaign for a new national park, we had no clue who Julius Rosenwald was, much less the impact he had on our country.

A son of German Jewish immigrants who grew up in Springfield, Illinois, just across the street from Abraham Lincoln’s home, Julius Rosenwald would become the Jeff Bezos of his day. In the early 20th century he was famous as the business genius behind Sears, Roebuck & Company, whose catalog enabled customers to buy anything from a baby buggy to a tractor or even an entire house – all by mail.

“He developed the concept of satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back,” said Alan Spears of the National Parks Conservation Association, which is supporting the Rosenwald Park Campaign. “And that helped to bring in a whirlwind of profits for Sears. He became, I think the technical term is a ‘gazillionaire.’ And what happened is that Rosenwald then chose to take that money and support a variety of causes.”

In 1911 Rosenwald met Booker T. Washington, author of “Up From Slavery” and founder of the Tuskeegee Institute. One of the most prominent African Americans of his time, Washington was more famous than Rosenwald, and also more educated. Together, they hashed out a pilot program to build schoolhouses for young African Americans in the Jim Crow South, where resources for education were heavily skewed toward whites. They pioneered a new form of philanthropy: Rosenwald would put up a third of the money. Another third would come from local government, and the last third would be raised by each community.

The impact they had was enormous, creating more than 5,000 schools and associated buildings, and educating a third of African American students across 15 states. Rosenwald also created a fellowship fund that supported a who’s who of Black writers, artists and scientists, from singer Marian Anderson to Nobel Prize winner Ralph Bunche.

For the rest of the story, please watch “Rosenwald: Toward A More Perfect Union.”

“I think it’s very timely. I think it’s a story that needs to be told,” said Dorothy Canter, President of the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park Campaign. “It deserves to be remembered because it’s a story about how people contribute to the American democracy.”

Since the Campaign began in 2016, it has successfully lobbied Congress to pass legislation mandating that the National Park Service conduct a special resource study of sites associated with Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools. “We envision that the ultimate park will be a multi-site park,” Canter said. “It will consist of a visitor center in Chicago and a small number of Rosenwald Schools. The more people that are out there that support us and organizations that support this park, the sooner the park will be created. And we hope that everybody that’s interested will sign on and help us.”

For more information, visit rosenwaldpark.org

For more on the documentary, visit rosenwaldparkepk.org