Agricultural Extension Service and Race

Nov 21, 2014

Employed by the Agricultural Extension Service, home demonstration agents played a vital role in providing support to rural black families, despite the segregated and underfunded climate they operated in. Husband and wife team Harvey C. Ray and Mary McCrary Ray filled the positions as the first black U.S. Extension Service agent and first black home demonstration agent in Arkansas. Home demonstration agents were an early federally funded outlet for African American support and betterment in often-impoverished black families and communities. They provided centers and networks of mutual help and contact which later civil rights activists built upon. You can find out more about the work of the Agricultural Extension Service in Arkansas in a new edited collection of essays published in December by the University of Arkansas Press called Race and Ethnicity in Arkansas: New Perspectives.