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K-State Today

February 25, 2015

Faculty participate in historic conference about Black farmers at Howard University

Submitted by Spencer Wood

Zelia Wiley, assistant dean and director for diversity programs in the College of Agriculture, and Spencer Wood, associate professor in sociology. anthropology and social work, helped plan and participated in a research, education and policy forum around black farming, health and community at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Two K-State faculty met with students, faculty and community members at Howard University last week as part of an historic conference about black farmers, food and nutrition. Wood and Wiley spoke with students, faculty and area residents about farming and agricultural sciences at the "Power of Land, Healthy Food, and USDA Policies Forum" Feb. 20-21. 

Wood, a board member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, helped the organization convene the event that was hosted on campus by the Howard University political science department.

In addition to highlighting the successful collaborative efforts between the College of Agriculture and the Kansas Black Farmers Association, Wiley discussed the many options available to students who major in sciences related to agriculture and linked her work with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Two K-State alumni and MANRRS chapter alumni, James Millsap, ’10, and Jael Jackson, ’08, attended the forum.

Wood gave an overview the history of black farm numbers and the significance of black farmers for the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Keynote speaker, historian Pete Daniel, presented material from his book, "Dispossession: Discrimination Against Black Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights."

Other invited speakers from across the country spoke about their involvement in both conventional and urban agriculture as researchers, educators, producers, consumers and policy actors. Many speakers shared their experiences and research around the stability of their communities, and the role that food and agriculture can play in helping to reinvigorate the health and livelihoods of their communities.

The conference was attended by more than 100 Howard University students, faculty and community members from throughout the D.C. area despite the record setting low temperatures. Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association is a national organization of Black Farmers based in Tillery, North Carolina.