LOUISVILLE, KY – The Filson Historical Society will host the traveling photography exhibit, “A Better Life for Their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the 4,978 Schools That Changed America” May 26-August 4, 2023. The exhibit includes photographs, storytelling, and original curation by Andrew Feiler.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, a visionary partnership between a Black educator and white Jewish business leader launched transformational change across the segregated South. A Better Life for their Children is a traveling photography exhibition about the Rosenwald Schools that Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald partnered in creating between 1912 and 1937 to serve black students in rural communities. The program built 4,978 schools across fifteen southern and border states including 155 in Kentucky. Rosenwald schools created educational access for African Americans in places where it had been severely restricted. Of the original schools, only about 500 survive, 3 of which are in Jefferson County. Atlanta-based photographer Andrew Feiler spent more than three years documenting the remaining schools and the stories that live on in generations of graduates. This body of work became a book by the same title, published by University of Georgia Press in 2021.
“We often see America’s challenges as intractable, especially those related to race,” said photographer and author Andrew Feiler. “Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald reached across divides of race, religion, and region and they changed this nation. Their accomplishment speaks to us today. Individual actions matter; we can make America a better place for all.”
Andrew Feiler is a photographer, author, and fifth generation Georgian. Having grown up Jewish in Savannah, he has been shaped by the rich complexities of the American South. Feiler has long been active in civic life. He has helped create over a dozen community initiatives, serves on multiple not-for-profit boards, and is an active advisor to numerous elected officials and political candidates. His art is an extension of his civic values.
Feiler was named “Book Photographer of the Year” by Prix de la Photographie Paris in 2022 and A Better Life for Their Children won the gold medal for documentary book. The book also won the International Photography Awards 2022 first place for documentary book. It has been honored with an Eric Hoffer Award, an Axiom Award Gold Medal, and a Book, Jacket, and Journal Award from the Association of University Presses. Photolucida named Feiler’s Rosenwald school images a 2020 Top 50 portfolio and Photoville selected them for the 2020 edition of The Fence, an outdoor exhibition displayed internationally in eleven cities. The solo exhibition of this work is now on tour.
Feiler’s photographs have been instrumental in the campaign to create a new US national historical park and inspired the composition of a symphony. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, L’OEil de la Photographie, Architect, The Forward as well as on CBS This Morning and NPR.
His prints have been displayed in galleries and museums including solo exhibitions at such venues as the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, and International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC. His photographs are in public and private collections including that of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. More of his work can be seen at andrewfeiler.com.
The public opening reception for the exhibit will be held on June 9 from 5:00-6:00 pm. The opening will feature refreshments and short remarks from the curator and sponsors at 5:15 p.m. All participants are encouraged to register in advance. To register for this event, please visit www.filsonhistorical.org. This event is free and open to the public.
“A Better Life for Their Children” is generously sponsored by Stock Yards Bank & Trust and Skipper and Hana Martin.
“A Better Life for Their Children” will be open for viewing Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm beginning May 26 and will close on August 4, 2023, at the Filson Historical Society, 1310 S. 3rd Street, Louisville. Tours of the exhibit and grounds are free, but reservations are strongly encouraged.
For more information about this exhibit, please contact Maureen Lane, Curator of Museum Collections at gro.l1708992899aciro1708992899tsihn1708992899oslif1708992899@neer1708992899uam1708992899 or (502) 635-5083. For more information on Filson events, please visit filsonhistorical.org.