Celebrating African American History Month: new NCpedia biographies
February is African American History Month and this year’s theme for the national observance is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories”.
Photo of Willie Otey (Willie Kay), ca. 1910, by Manly W. Tyree. Copy courtesy of Ralph Campbell, Jr. Item N_93_9_66, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina.
This week NCpedia added two new resources that share two memories for African American history in North Carolina. These stories are available thanks to collaboration with North Carolina curators and librarians.
Willie Otey Kay: The first is a biographical essay on Willie Otey Kay — Raleigh dressmaker par excellence — written with Diana Bell-Kite, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History who developed a new exhibit at the Museum, “Made Especially for You by Willie Kay”. If you haven’t visited the exhibit, do! It’s a wonderful window into the life and art of an amazing woman whose work transcended racially segregated society in Raleigh during the 20th century. Her life, work and legacy were featured in numerous publications, including McCall’s, Life, and the News & Observer. That legacy included both her enduring creations as well her descendents’ impact in the push for civil rights both locally in Raleigh and beyond. The NCpedia article also includes images shared by the Museum of History and the State Archives of North Carolina.
Dr. C. B. Smith (left) and J.W. Mitchell, at the Negro 4-H Short Course at A & T College, Greensboro. From the “Annual Report of Agricultural Extension Work in North Carolina 1938.” NCSU Libraries’ Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials.
John W. Mitchell: The second entry shares the life and work of John W. Mitchell, a “pioneering African American extension agent and educator who became one of the most well known Cooperative Extension agents in the nation.” Mitchell came to the state’s cooperative extension service in 1922 and became the head of the district office at A&T State University in an era when 4-H clubs and extension services were segregated, along with many aspects of life and opportunties for African Americans. He later went on to the U.S. Agricultural Extension Service and became one of the nation’s top agricultural experts.
This biography was contributed to NCpedia by James Stewart, a digital projects librarian at NC State University. James works on projects in the “Better Living” collection at NCSU Libraries. This is the first contribution to NCpedia from a new collaboration with NCSU Libraries!!
— Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library