John W. Mitchell


CCE is celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth by highlighting some of the great work the Black community has done throughout the country.

Today, we’re looking at John W. Mitchell, a leading figure in the North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. Mitchell was born in 1886 in Morehead City, North Carolina. He dedicated his life to studying agriculture, as he earned a B.S. in Agriculture from North Carolina A&T State University and a Master’s in Sociology from the University of Indianapolis. In 1917, Graham joined the Cooperative Extension as an executive agent and worked there until his death in 1955. During this time, he helped promote the extension’s activities to African Americans and allowed them to get involved. One of his most famous efforts is his creation of one of the largest Black 4-H clubs in the country.

Mitchell’s work expanded throughout the state of North Carolina. It reached over 15 counties, and he was actively involved in promoting the work of African American farmers in the South. In 1953, he was appointed the National Extension Leader, a role created just for him that was the highest rank a person of color had ever received in the organization. The impact Mitchell left on the extension continues to be honored today, as he was inducted into the NC A&T School of Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1996. The J.W. Mitchell 4-H Camp in Onslow County, North Carolina was also dedicated to him in 1956.

Mitchell took great strides in promoting Cooperative Extension work to all members of the community. Whether it was adults in agriculture or local children, he made sure that African Americans could become a part of the great work in keeping our neighborhoods healthy and happy.

Last updated February 15, 2022