Succeeding Generations

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Succeeding Generations: African American Agriculture in Kansas” by Anne Hawkins.

Family in front of home

Kansas farm family, late 1800s.
Photo from, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Our state’s deep agricultural roots and pioneer history are familiar to most Kansans. Less known, however, is the history of thousands of African American pioneers who settled to farm, such as Junius Groves. Born into slavery, Groves became a millionaire in Kansas agriculture and the nation’s wealthiest black farmer of his era. By 1910, black Kansans farmed a greater average acreage and enjoyed a higher average farm value than farmers of any race in the American South and other African American farmers in most states. In her Speakers Bureau presentation, Anne Hawkins discusses how many of these agricultural operations endure today.

“When people thing of Kansas pioneers, they tend to think of Little House on the Prairie,” said Hawkins. “But what most people don’t know is that the Ingalls had black neighbors, Bennet and Mary Tann. African American farmers are as central to the story of Kansas pioneering as white American or European immigrant settlers.”

Anne Hawkins

Anne Hawkins

Anne Hawkins teaches history at Washburn University and for home-educated youth ages 7-17 across northeast Kansas. She has published numerous writings on state history, including “Hoeing Their Own Roe: Black Agriculture and the Agrarian Ideal in Kansas, 1880-1920,” in Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.

Bring Anne Hawkins’ “Succeeding Generations: African American Agriculture in Kansas” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.