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Home North Carolina Mecklenburg County City of Charlotte Historical Markers George E. Davis 1862-1959

George E. Davis 1862-1959

Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Organizer & fundraiser, 1921-35, for Rosenwald Schools; program built 813 schools for black students across N.C. Lived 1/4 mile south."
     In 1917 Sears, Roebuck, and Company president Julius Rosenwald established a fund to finance public school buildings for African Americans in the rural South. As a model he took the similar effort by Andrew Carnegie to finance library buildings. The educational facilities for blacks in the South at the time were sorely substandard, usually much worse than counterpart white schools. Between 1917 and 1932 over 5,300 Rosenwald Schools were constructed in fifteen states. Of that number, 813 were built in North Carolina, more than in any other state. Those schools had a capacity of 114,210 students and were constructed at a cost of just over $5 million. Ninety-three of the state’s 100 counties had at least one Rosenwald School. Nathan C. Newbold, for thirty-seven years the Director of Negro Education in North Carolina, helped implement the Rosenwald program. Acting as assistants to Newbold (a Caucasian) was one white man, William F. Credle, and one black man, initially C. H. Moore of Greensboro from 1918 to 1921, after which George E. Davis assumed that role.

     George Edward Davis (1862-1959) was born in Wilmington where he attended Gregory Normal Institute, sponsored by the American Missionary Association. He attended Howard University and in 1883 completed a doctorate at Biddle University (forerunner of Johnson C. Smith University). Two years later he became that school’s first black professor, over time teaching science and sociology and acting as dean of faculty and coach. In 1921 he stepped down from the faculty to take on the task of implementing the Rosenwald program in North Carolina. He crisscrossed the state to raise funds in mostly impoverished communities. In 1932 Davis reported having raised to date $666,736 in matching funds. Davis retired from the second job in 1935 and late in life moved to Greensboro. His house in Charlotte has been acquired by JCSU.

Thomas W. Hanchett, “The Rosenwald Schools and Black Education in North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review (October 1988): 387-444
Thomas W. Hanchett, The Rosenwald Schools in Mecklenburg: A History (1987)
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, Report on George E. Davis House (1984)
A. B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro, Vol. IV, North Carolina Edition (1921)
Inez Moore Parker, The Biddle-Johnson C. Smith University Story (1975)
Charlotte Observer, July 17, 1995, and February 26, 2001
Greensboro Daily News, January 13, 1959