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4-H Promotion Compendium: 4-H'ers Give Demonstrations at Landmark 1940 American Negro Exposition

A National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility over the Past Century

4-H'ers Give Demonstrations at Landmark 1940 American Negro Exposition

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Something very special was going on during the summer of 1940 in Chicago - the landmark American Negro Exposition celebrating 75 years of Negro achievement. The exposition ran from July 4 to September 2 at the Chicago Coliseum, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and highlighting African Americans accomplishments and contributions to American life since the end of the Civil War.

Extension had a prominent spot for the duration of the exposition with 4-H members giving demonstrations on projects and skills they were learning. The August 1940 issue of National 4-H Club News carried a photo feature entitled "4-H Helps the Negro," on the American Negro Exposition and the young 4-H'ers showing off their skills. Parts of that feature are given below:

"What the Negro as a race is achieving to obtain freedom from conditions adverse to a wholesome social and economic outlook is being graphically portrayed this summer until September 2 in the American Negro Exposition in Chicago. It marks the diamond jubilee of the emancipation of the race from physical bondage in the United States.

"Eleven southern states and the U. S. Department of Agriculture are cooperating with the enterprise in demonstrating activities of the Extension Services in behalf of the colored race.

"Made possible by $75,000 appropriations each by the Illinois legislature and Congress, the exposition is presenting in highly artistic and effective educational exhibits and demonstrations the history and upward march of the Negro, totaling 10,000,000 persons, roundly, in the cooperating States and over 16,000,000 in the Nation as a whole... Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, president of Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, heads the federal commission to the exposition appointed by President Roosevelt. The exposition is the dream of James W. Washington, former Tennessee extension agent and now a Chicago real estate man, who worked five years with the backing of influential Negroes among Chicago's 350,000 members and others elsewhere to obtain support for the project.

"Featuring the educational program in charge of Negro agricultural specialists of the Extension Services are demonstrations on housekeeping aids, mattress making, low cost housing, food conservation, table service and meat production. Early in July specialists from Alabama and Virginia held forth followed by others from Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina with Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas and again Alabama scheduled for the closing weeks.

"Colored 4-H Club members brought to the exposition to take part in the demonstrations spoke with unconcealed pride of their projects and of being chosen to do a service for their race. Maryland Tyner, Auburn, Alabama, told between the big stitches she was taking on a mattress of having canned 25 quarts of food before leaving home and of her 13 pullets which had begun laying. She had bought the flock as chicks and carefully reared them. She also told of a fine big mattress she and her mother had recently made. Asked how it slept she said it was put in the front room for special guests. She is 16, and there are 10 in her family.

"Zepherine E. Tate, 13, of Tuskegee, has been in club work three years and has some hens, is learning to make clothing and raises peanuts which she sells to pay school tuition.

"Columbus Meadows, 17, Milstead, Alabama, is growing an acre of corn to feed a pig he hopes to grow into a brood sow. He lives with his family on a 30-acre rented farm which runs two milk cows with calves they are raising. Columbus is one of 10 children and hopes to be a farmer.

"Arthur James Johnson, 17, also of Milstead, Alabama, belongs to the Cotton Valley 4-H Club having 70 members. He lives on a farm, with 80 acres under cultivation and during his two years of club work has carried poultry, swine, corn and peanut projects. This year Arthur is raising two acres of Hasten Prolific corn and has an acre of peanuts, on which he expects a yield of about 35 bushels."

American Negro Exposition Guidebook 1940



Fluffing a mattress

Finishing a mattress

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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