Letters from the Archives of Marcus Bruce Christian From & To Friends, Colleagues, & Wife

Books by Marcus Bruce Christian

Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo / High Ground: A Collection of Poems  / Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans

I am New Orleans: A Poem / Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /  The Liberty Monument

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Letter 29

Christian Accepts Rosenwald Fellowship


4901 Ellis Avenue, Chicago,

May 5, 1943


Dear Mr. Christian:

I am happy that you are able to accept the fellowship grant. Will you please write me the exact date you would like to begin work under the award, and tell me to what address payments should be sent? The usual arrangement is for equal installments on the first of each month during the period for which the award is made. Will this payment plan be satisfactory to you?

Any change of address during the tenure of your fellowship should be reported to us immediately in order that there will be no delay in your receiving your checks.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. William C. Haygood

Acting-Director for Fellowships

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Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) founded the Museum of Science and Industry and built Sears Roebuck into the America’s leading mail order house. But his most lasting legacy may be little known. Rosenwald, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, rose to become one of the wealthiest men in America as well as a beloved humanitarian whose commitment to social justice lead to historic change for black Americans.

Influenced by the social gospel espoused by Rabbi Emil Hirsch of Chicago Sinai Congregation, Rosenwald used his great wealth and talent for social good and justice. Reports are that he gave away $63 million.

Inspired by Booker T. Washington, Rosenwald spurred the establishment of 25 YMCA-YWCAs to serve African-Americans in cities across the U.S., including the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago. (Existing Y’s at the time served only whites.) In addition, he established one of the nation’s first housing projects, on Chicago’s South Side, and, with challenge grants, seeded the creation of more than 5,000 schools for black children in southern states at a time when few received any public education.

In 1917, he established the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a charity for the economic, medical and cultural advancement of blacks in America, with an endowment of $30 million. He also gave about $6.6 million to establish the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and more than $4 million to the University of Chicago.

American merchant and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald was born and educated in Springfield, Ill., and served as vice-president and treasurer (1895) of the mail-order concern of Sears, Roebuck & Co. He became president of the company in 1910 and chairman of the board of directors in 1925.

He introduced the concept of mail-order business, and created one of the first savings and profit-sharing plans for employees.

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Do not be fooled into believing that because a man is rich he is necessarily smart. There is ample proof to the contrary.

Julius Rosenwald

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Edith Rosenwald Stern was the daughter of Julius Rosenwald who was the head of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and also a philanthropist in Chicago. Edith married Edgar Bloom Stern, a prominent New Orleans businessman, in 1921. While Mrs. Edgar Stern focused her attention on establishing the Newcomb Nursery School and the Metairie Park Country Day School, Edgar was becoming involved in philanthropic pursuits as well as excelling as a business leader.

In 1930 he was made planning chairman of the fundraising drive to merge two local African-American schools, Straight College and New Orleans University, into Dillard University. At the university’s founding, he became the first president of its board of directors, a post that Edith Stern filled after his death in 1959.

Both Sterns are buried at their showcase home, Longue Vue, in New Orleans.

The Rosenwald Fund for County Libraries

The Julius Rosenwald Fund in 1929 decided to offer aid to libraries in the southern states. According to the terms of the offer two libraries in each of the 13 states of the section would be helped to extend their service to include all residents of the county in which the library operated.

The conditions of the grant called for service to all elements of the population, city and rural, white and Negro. Emphasis was laid on service to rural people, and it was proposed that branch reading rooms be established and that books be carried also to people living in isolated sections of the open country.

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Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes

Memories of Marcus B. Christian (CainsChristian’s BioBibliographical Record    Introduction to I AM NEW ORLEANS 

A Theory of a Black Aesthetic   Magpies, Goddesses, & Black Male Identity

Activist Works on Next Level of Change   Intro to I Am New Orleans   Letter from Dillard University

A Labor of Genuine Love  Letter of Gift of Photos   Letters from LSU and Skip Gates

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Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900

By Marcus Bruce Christian


Study of the blacksmith tradition and New Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.

Acclaimed during his life as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican’s Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest publications.

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Bob Dylan: Only a pawn in their game / The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll

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Panel on Literary Criticism

26 March 2010

 National Black Writers Conference

Patrick Oliver, Kalamu ya Salaam, Dorothea Smartt, Frank Wilderson discuss the use of literature to promote political causes and instigate change and transformation.  The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives

Panel on Politics and Satire

26 March 2010

 National Black Writers Conference

Herb Boyd, Thomas Bradshaw, Charles Edison and Major Owens discuss how current events are reflected in the writings of African Americans.  The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives


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update 18 April 2010