In Lake County, where the infamous Sheriff Willis McCall reigned terror on the black population of turpentine, citrus, and watermelon laborers, somehow 10 schools, 3 shops, and 1 teacher home were built so black children could be educated.
Only 23 remain in the State of Florida of which two are in Lake County. The Florida Department of State, Historical Division, has called this School the "Best existing Florida example of a wood frame two teacher school".
The Okahumpka Rosenwald School was officially known as the Okahumpka Colored School in the Lake County Florida Board of Education’s record archives. It opened in 1930, closed in 1960, and was sold to the Okahumpka Community Club in 1967. The highest grade of education provided to black students was 10th grade.
The address used to be 3615 North Quarters Road, a reference to segregation and the Jim Crow eras, where enslaved blacks, farm workers and laborers had to live.
This former blacks only school is still located where it was built, but its address has been changed to 27908 Virgil Hawkins Circle, renamed in honor of Okahumpka native, the late Florida Civil Rights leader, Attorney Virgil D. Hawkins, whose 1949-1958 court battles desegregated the University of Florida. Attorney Hawkins attended school through the 10th grade in a one-room school on this site, which was torn down in 1929 to build this Rosenwald School. His parents Virgil & Josephine donated ½ acre of land for the new school, and Attorney Hawkins’ wife Ida taught students in this school for several years.
This school represents the struggle in Florida and the USA for equal rights for Americans of all races, colors, and creeds that we are still fighting today. Your donation will go to the restoration of this historic institution, and the cultural and history exhibits planned inside.
This project is to fully restore the Rosenwald School for displaying the history of Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington Phd., and Okahumpka native citizen and Florida Civil Rights Leader Virgil D. Hawkins, Esq. We will also build a new support facility with restrooms and meeting space for visitors, which will double as the Okahumpka Virgil Hawkins Community Center.