Kysha Rooks: A little known Black history fact

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 26, 2022

After the emancipation proclamation, African American history came to reflect many firsts.

These milestones include achievements across a wide variety of disciplines, including the industrial and agricultural sectors. One such stride was the initiative in North Carolina to bring African American women into the NC Cooperative Extension, an event reported in the local news on Feb. 2, 1918.

Todd Kosmerick discusses this step’s impact in reducing racial discrepancies and creating a more racially fair and equal society in “Wonderful 100: First African-American Women in NC Cooperative Extension.” The purpose of the undertaking was to place women of color in leadership positions as assistants in various counties across North Carolina.

Primarily, these women’s roles were to conduct instructional sessions for other Blacks on effective farming and food production practices. Furthermore, those providing instruction were also to engage in related duties, such as canning and other food preparation activities.

As the article illustrates, the pursuit of racial equality has been ongoing. An important factor in the progress for African Americans has been providing opportunities for their participation in socioeconomic improvement programs. This article describes a beneficial program that gave the black community access to agricultural training and education, enabling them to more effectively produce and store food for times of need, especially during winter. People of color throughout the state were able to increase their food supplies through their own abilities and using their own resources, such as creating small-scale gardens in their own backyards, Kosmerick found. Sufficient food is necessary for survival, and this article shows how families at risk for having enough food were given the opportunity to improve their quality of life through instruction and training. This program was instrumental in enabling African Americans to have better lives and was also a step forward in including women of color as leaders in an important community outreach program.

Kosmerick, T. (2018, February 1). Wonderful 100: First African-American Women in NC Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from–first-africanamerican-women-in-nc-cooperative-extension


Kysha Rooks is Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) educator with the N.C. Cooperative Extension. Contact her at 704-216-8970.

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