“Rosenwald” director/producer/writer Aviva Kempner credits civil rights leader Julian Bond with sparking her interest in Julius Rosenwald when he talked about his family’s connection to the
Jewish philanthropist during a meeting on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 2003.
Bond died Aug. 16, exactly a month before the special Midtown Art Cinema screening of the documentary organized by the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, and the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition. But his presence was felt throughout the night.
Parts of two interviews with Bond are scattered throughout the film. Along with writers Maya Angelou and Rita Dove and Congressman John Lewis, Bond is one of the standout interviewees in the documentary.
He also was a focus of the post-screening discussion among Kempner, Atlanta Daily World Publisher Emerita Alexis Scott, and Atlanta City Council member Michael Julian Bond, Bond’s son.
“It was lucky for me that he inspired me and lived near me” in Washington, Kempner said about Bond.
Michael Bond explained that the Rosenwald Fund helped his grandfather launch his academic career.
Kempner said she hopes the story of Rosenwald’s donation of $62 million during his lifetime, equivalent to almost $1 billion today, leads to more charity and more tikkun olam. “Let this film inspire more changes in the country. We need them.”