Thomas Monroe Campbell
Campbell, a Field Agent for the U. S. Department of Agriculture, was appointed Farm Demonstration Agent in Macon County, Alabama, in 1906. He advanced from County Agent to State Agent in Alabama and from State Agent to Field Agent for seven southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. As a result of the effectiveness of his work, there are now nearly 600 county and home demonstration agents working in these states.
The son of an itinerant Methodist preacher and tenant farmer, Thomas Monroe Campbell was born in Elbert County, Georgia, on February 11, 1883. He worked with his tenant-farmer father and several white farmers until he was fifteen. Campbell briefly attended a local school in 1898 and in January of the following year he set out for Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, where his brother was attending school. Campbell did not do well on the entrance exam, however, and instead took non-matriculated courses at night. He worked hard to improve his grades, took a number of courses in agriculture, and graduated in spring 1906.
From its beginning until the 1960s the Alabama Extension Service was racially segregated. When Thomas M. Campbell was hired in 1906, he became the first African American extension agent in the nation. He became supervising agent in 1910 and held the post until he retired in 1953. Using a "Movable School," Campbell and his agents, who worked out of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, conducted classes for isolated farm families who were unable to attend the courses on campus. His work revolutionized black farming in the South. He also led the farmers to improve and enhance their homes and to provide better health care for their families. He addressed the needs of the woman in the home and on the farm and stressed education for children.
Thomas Monroe Campbell was born on February 11, 1883, in Elbert County, Georgia, near the small town of Bowman, about twenty-five miles from the South Carolina state line. He was the grandson of slaves and the son of William Campbell, an itinerant Methodist minister and tenant farmer. His mother, whose name is not given in known sources, died in childbirth when he was five years old. She had a long and fatal illness, exacerbated by her hard work as washerwoman and farmhand in the family's struggle to pay for their home where the parents and six children lived. They also had barely enough food.
Campbell, Thomas M. The Movable School Goes to the Negro Farmer. Tuskegee, Ala.: Tuskegee Institute Press, 1936.
———. The School Comes to the Farmer: The Autobiography of T. M. Campbell. London: Longmans, Green, 1947.
———. The Saturday Service League. Circular 40. Auburn: Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1920.
———. U.S. Farm Demonstration Work Among Negroes in the South. Tuskegee, Ala.: Tuskegee Institute Press, 1915
Davis, Jackson, Thomas M. Campbell, and Margaret Wrong. Africa Advancing: A Study of Rural Education and Agriculture in West Africa and Belgian Congo. New York: Friendship Press, 1945.
James, Felix. "The Tuskegee Institute Movable School, 1906-1923." Agricultural History 45 (July 1971): 201-9.
Jones, Allen W. "Thomas M. Campbell: Black Agricultural Leader of the New South." Agricultural History 53 (January 1979): 42-59.
———. "The South's First Black Farm Agents." Agricultural History 50 (October 1976): 636-44.
———. "The Role of Tuskegee Institute in the Education of Black Farmers." Journal of Negro History 60 (April 1975): 252-67.
This was created by Shamaya Gibbs.