Feb. 14, 2008
Edgar Hicks, an expert in the field of agriculture, will be at Morningside College talking about “The Black Farmer Today” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in the UPS Auditorium in Lincoln Center, 3627 Peters Ave.
The public is invited to this free event, part of the statewide George Washington Carver Lecture Series that is sponsored by the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa. It is also sponsored by the Academic and Cultural Arts Series (ACAS) at Morningside College.
Hicks has worked as a Midwestern grain trader for more than 30 years, taking leadership roles in numerous rural organizations during that time. One of his recent projects has been coordinating economic development efforts in Nicodemus, Kansas, a town settled by freed slaves after the Civil War. Nicodemus is protected as a National Historic Site, but its population has been dwindling over the years. As a result, Hicks has been working with the Kansas Black Farmers Association to grow teff in Nicodemus. As the staple grain in Ethiopia, teff would meet a need for Ethiopian immigrants in the United States and Canada, and it could bring farmers in Nicodemus a higher profit than wheat or vegetables.
Hicks said the story of black farmers and white farmers is more intertwined in Iowa than in other places, such as Louisiana, where separate land-grant universities were established to segregate students of agriculture. So during his presentation at Morningside, Hicks will examine both black and white farmers with Iowa ties who have made major contributions to the agricultural field, particularly George Washington Carver, Norman Borlaug, Herbert Hoover and Henry Wallace. Hicks said he hopes today’s students will be inspired by these stories.
“I hope by looking at that history, it just perks a person’s mind that this is something I can do to really contribute to society,” he said.