DRAWING THE LINE: Segregation in the NC Extension Service

North Carolina A&T

Negro Junior Dairy Show in Greensboro

This is a photograph from a junior dairy show in Greensboro for African American participants in the NC Extension Service. When the African American branch of the Extension Service first started, all activities would have been separated according to the participant's race. These youth would have attended meetings at NC A&T.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, known as NC A&T was originally founded in 1891, and was known at the time as The Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race.  The school was established alongside North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College, now known as North Carolina State University, because laws required racial segregation in all educational institutions.  Since white and black students were not allowed to attend the same institutions, a separate college had to be started specifically for African Americans.  NC A&T now is a land-grant university in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

Extension agency work for African Americans in North Carolina began in 1914 in Sampson County.  By 1926 there were enough black youth interested in the program to warrant the first 4-H short course for African Americans at NC A&T.  Soon after, NC A&T was established as the headquarters for the African American branch of the Extension Service.  Thus, black extension agents worked out of NC A&T, and white extension agents worked out of NC State.  Although based along the same guidelines and principles, the two agencies worked mostly on their own until the end of Jim Crow laws in the South.   Even though the same work was being done from each institution, black and white extension agents rarely worked together and mostly served only farming families of their same race until the Extension Service was desegregated in the 1960s. 

Now the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agency works out of both NC State and NC A&T simultaneously and without consideration for a member’s race.  Currently, the program focuses on five major areas: sustaining agriculture and forestry, protecting the environment, maintaining viable communities, developing responsible youth, and developing strong, healthy, and safe families.