Celebrating Black History in Extension!

— Written By
"Black Agricultural Extension agent measuring corn from black farmer's yield", UA023.007, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Black Agricultural Extension agent measuring corn from black farmer’s yield”, UA023.007, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

February is Black History Month! This is a time to celebrate the strides and accomplishments made by African Americans all over our country. Even within Cooperative Extension, we celebrate African Americans in their contributions to work in Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H. Here are some of the first earliest agents within North Carolina who paved the way.

Neil Alexander Bailey – Bailey was the first African American agricultural agent in the state of North Carolina. A graduate from the A&T State College in 1908 (Currently N.C. A&T State University), he served Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph counties as an agricultural agent from 1910 to 1915. Most notably known for helping increase corn yield production through demonstrations.

Demonstration agent in kitchen of African American demonstration home, 1956

“Demonstration agent in kitchen of African American demonstration home, 1956”, ua100.099, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sarah Williams and Dazelle Foster Lowe were some of the first African American home demonstration agents to be hired through federal World War I emergency funding. Williams was hired with 6 other agents in 1922, with Lowe being hired the following year. Their goals were to help African American women be sustainable in knowing how to plant vegetable gardens and preserve those foods through canning. Lowe would later become the supervisor of all African American home demonstration agents in the state.

Last, John D. Wray, was hired in 1915 as the first African American state club agent for African American clubs. With his work, African American clubs were able to hold their first county camp and district short course in Beaufort County in 1924. Later the population of African American club members would swell to 10,000 by 1936.

As North Carolina Cooperative Extension continues to pave the way with innovation and education to support the community, we hope to continue to celebrate African Americans in extension and their contribution to black history, our country, and the world.

References:

“4-H and Home Demonstration among African Americans” – Green ‘N Growing, The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina – North Carolina State University Libraries

“Bailey, Neil Alexander” – NCPedia

“Chapter 18: Education for Whites and Blacks” – Knowledge id Power: A History of the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University 1877-1984 – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Photos credited to:

Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina