Origin of Impact
The first building constructed at the intersection of Milo Fisher and Clayton Street, Fairburn, GA, was a Rosenwald school. Considered the most critical initiative for education in our nation's history, the Rosenwald Schools program was created by Tuskegee Institute principal Booker T. Washington and Sears, Roebuck & Co. president Julius Rosenwald. From 1912 to 1932, this collaboration built 4,977 schools for Black children across the southern United States. Of the original structures, one hundred remain, with only five restored for educational purposes. In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Rosenwald Schools as the most "in periled" buildings in the United States.
Julius Rosenwald was the son of Jewish immigrants who fled religious persecution in Germany. As a result, the Jewish concept of tzedakah — righteousness, charity, and responsibility — was ingrained in him. Booker T. Washington, born into slavery, created the Tuskegee Institute and led the college for more than thirty years. In the early 1900s, Rosenwald became friends with Washington, whose autobiography, Up from Slavery, had inspired him.
In 1912, Washington approached Rosenwald with an innovative idea and urged the businessman to help the Black community educate its children. Alarmed at rising prejudice and violence against African Americans, Rosenwald decided to support racial justice with significant financial contributions and personal attention. Washington's vision: a matching grant model that prompted cooperation and collaboration from the bottom-up.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was illegal for black and white children to sit next to each other to receive an education. As a result, local school boards allocated funds unequally, often illegally skirting the 1896 United States Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson. This action resulted in tax-payers funding public schools for white children, while black children were often left to fend for themselves.
In 1922-1923, the citizens of Fairburn, Georgia, brought forth a material challenge to the structure of Jim Crow and the culture of white supremacy. The Rosenwald Initiative provided the opportunity for highly trained teachers and well-built school buildings for Black children. In addition, the citizens of Fairburn demonstrated their capacity for community action and grassroots development. The Fairburn Black community raised $1000 to build a Rosenwald school for their children; white citizens contributed $900. The program further required the commitment of public funds and encouraged collaboration in the communities. The city of Fairburn donated $550. Rosenwald matched the amount raised.
In 1925, the city of Fairburn sold four acres of land in the amount of "ONE DOLLAR" to Campbell County for the "purposes of building schools." The deed specifies the separation of black and white students building schools on opposite sides of the land.
Intentional Architectural Design and Location
The Fairburn School was located on fertile land for developing agricultural studies, near freshwater supply, trees providing natural shade, and space for a playground. The construction of the school was according to a standardized design published by the Rosenwald Fund in the 1920s. These Community School Plans for simple, unobtrusive, efficient buildings represented "state of the art" school architecture. They were painted white for a simple, clean look, with windows often trimmed in black. The Fairburn School demonstrated the Rosenwald School’s most distinctive architectural features with banks of large, double-hung windows. In addition, the open floor plan of "one hall" maximized airflow and light in classrooms without electricity and became "symbols of modernity" in school architecture.
The Fairburn School opened in 1926 at the crossroads of Pine and Clayton Street, the current location of the new Landmark High School, while white children were educated at Campbell school, where the Landmark Christian School main campus is today. According to the 1931-32 Fulton County Superintendent's Report, Fairburn School had a weekly attendance of 125 students and continued to grow.
Deductions in Education
In the 1940s, over 300 children attended Fairburn School. All of them walked. There were no Black school bus drivers. A Fairburn resident, Mr. Milo Fisher, "fought to have Central Office obey the Golden Rule // And treat the students at Fairburn as those of the other local schools.//In this he was successful, we should remember his name, as the first Black driver for South County he became" (Fulton County Archives, Fairburn History in Poem).
Fulton County Public Schools hired Mr. Fisher in 1947. As a result, Pine Street was renamed "Milo Fisher" in his honor.
Schools in Fairburn would remain segregated until the 1970-1971 school year.
Restoring Community Today
Dr. Jason McMaster, current Head of School for Landmark Christian School, shares, "We were intentional to preserve the original architectural design and bring in even more ambient light. The goal was to create educational spaces inside and outside that invited students into the learning process - everything from a sustainable teaching garden outside to biotechnology lab space inside. This new space offers our faculty the tools they need to equip students with a top-rated liberal arts education while also providing space for students to discover their passions and talents."
Integration: The Act or Process of Parts Becoming Whole
After integration came to Campbell High School, families began to leave for various reasons. The school eventually closed. When Landmark Christian purchased the property in 1987, both school buildings had been vacant for years. The restoration began. First, with the old Campbell School, the main campus for K3 – 8th grade at Landmark Christian. Then, with the Fairburn School. Fairburn Mayor Pro Tem Linda Davis shared during the Landmark Groundbreaking Ceremony in May 2019, "we are breaking the ground from old traditions to new possibilities. We are breaking the ground from segregation, partly based on fear, to the integration of bold visions and ideas to the freedom of neighborly love. We are moving forward together."
Believe. Belong. Become. Be (Loved)
In August 2021, two campuses, once divided, became fully integrated into one as the doors opened for the new high school on the original property of the Rosenwald school. Landmark Christian School welcomes all students, faculty, staff, and community to be part of the most innovative and, perhaps, unifying schools in the state and nation. For more information, contact Dr. Jason McMaster, firstname.lastname@example.org
g, or visit landmarkchristianschool.org
Video of Landmark Christian High School Ribbon-Cutting August 2021.