I try not to share too many articles on the list-serv because I know your
inbox gets as cluttered as mine and I don't want to be the cause. However,
this is a great historical view of the merger of NFA and FFA by a true
historian. Dr. Gary Moore is a professor emeritus at NC State and a
wonderful presenter. I've had the opportunity to sit and talk with him and
participate in workshops he's delivered at NAAE events. He began submitting
his "Firday Footnotes" to the national ag ed list serv a few months ago. If
you enjoy the article below and want to check out some of the past issues
of the "Friday Footnotes," here's a link to the archived issues:

Josh Allen
North Region Ag Education
204 Four Towers
Athens, GA 30602
706-552-4466 office
706-202-0770 cell

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Gary Moore <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 9:09 AM
Subject: [Usaged-l] Friday Footnote - The "Merger" of the FFA and NFA
To: Indiana ag ed mailing list 2 ([log in to unmask]) <
[log in to unmask]>, AAAE Listserve ([log in to unmask]) <
[log in to unmask]>
Cc: Gary Moore <[log in to unmask]>, Breanna Holbert <
[log in to unmask]>


The New Farmers of American (NFA) and the Future Farmers of America (FFA)
were merged in 1965. That is a well-known fact. What is not as well-known
is why? What led to the merger of these two organizations? The answer is
rather simple – pressure from the Federal government. In this Friday
Footnote, we will examine the events leading to the merger of the NFA and

In 1954 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the Brown vs. Board of
case that racial segregation of children in public schools was
unconstitutional. This ruling overturned the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision
of 1896. As a result, schools in some states started the process of
integration. However, the process was slow and was resisted in many
southern states.

More often than not, during integration, the black schools were closed or
repurposed and the students were sent to the white schools because the
schools were typically newer and in better condition.  During this era,
many of the Rosenwald Schools described in the 09/07/2018 Friday Footnote
The photo below shows what many black students faced when they started
attending white schools.
[image: Segregation-protest2-1024x640.jpg]

Things started to change with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This federal law, backed by enforcement by the Justice Department, began
the process of desegregation in earnest.

*1962*. The leadership of the NFA and FFA apparently saw the proverbial
handwriting on the wall.  The first discussions about merging the two
organization were in 1962. There was an exploratory meeting involving the
officers of the two groups (Strickland, 1994, p. 35).

*1963*. The merger talks got serious in 1963. The federal FFA officials
were “requested” to attend a meeting with Arthur L. Harris, Associate
Commissioner of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare on July 1,
1963, to “...discuss the future of segregated components of these
organizations.” The Future Homemakers of America (FHA) were also to attend
this meeting because they too had a similar segregated organization – the
New Homemakers of America (NHA). At this meeting, it was made crystal clear
that the groups were to merge with their counterparts.
[image: newhomemakersofamerica.jpg]

In a note after the meeting, William Paul Gray, the FFA Executive
Secretary, updated A. W. Tenney, the Director of the Agricultural Education
Service in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare about the
meeting (See Attached Documents, p. 2). Gray indicated that Dr. Harris
wanted to know if the integration could be accelerated, what were the
feelings of the NFA towards integrating, and what would be the next steps
if an Executive Order was given to integrate the two organizations. The FFA
was requested to discuss the matter further and respond to Dr. Arnold.

Gray (left) and Tenney (right) are shown below

.[image: gray.jpg]  [image: tenney.jpg]

After the July 1 meeting, Harris sent a memo (dated July 10, 1963) to Dr.
Walter Arnold, Assistant Commission of the Division of Vocational and
Technical Education and Francis Keppel, Commissioner of Education about the
meeting. Harris stated, “We believe that it is desirable and appropriate
that the Office of Education proceed without delay to make its position
clear with reference to discriminatory practices in these associations.”
(See Attached Documents, p. 4)

The FFA Board of Directors (including the student officers) met in
Washington on July 25-26, 1963, just a few weeks after the Harris meeting,
for a regularly scheduled board meeting. No mention of the merger
discussion is found in the National Board of Directors July 1963 meeting
This is strange since there had been meetings and correspondence earlier in
the month about the need to merge the two organizations. Why was it not
discussed at the board meeting?

A side note - At the October 1963 FFA Board Meeting
the “Members of the Board of Student Officers stated that during their term
as National FFA Officers, they felt the need of being kept better informed
of the latest FFA Developments” (p. 8). I wonder if this was because they
might have been deliberately left out of discussions about merging the FFA
and NFA.

On July 26, 1963, Dr. Arnold, responding to the Harris memo, updated the
Commissioner of Education, on the progress of the deliberations (See
Attached Document, p. 5). Dr. Arnold proposed having a meeting in
Washington, D. C. of state directors, state supervisors and the leadership
of the youth organizations. Arnold wrote, “We believe it would be advisable
to prepare a series of specific proposals to present to this group
concerning the eventual complete integration of these organizations and
that consideration be given to future dates for the completion of various
phases of this process.”

At the October 1963 FFA Board Meeting Dr. Tenney, the national advisor,
updated the group about pending federal legislation (the Vocational
Education Act of 1963) and the possible implications it might have for the
FFA. There was no discussion of the FFA-NFA merger.

*1964*. A letter (See Attached Document, p. 6) from the U.S. Commissioner
of Education Keppel dated September 22, 1964, to Dr. Tenney reiterated that
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act applied to the FFA – that participation in
the FFA was to be provided “...without distinction on the basis of race,
color, or national origin.”  Keppel then encouraged the FFA to use time at
the upcoming national FFA convention to make plans for “a smooth and
constructive course of progress.”

At the October 1964 FFA Board meeting
which was held immediately prior to the National FFA convention, the three
adult leaders of the NFA (G. W. Conoly - Florida A&M, W. T. Johnson - North
Carolina A&T, and E. M. Norris - Prairie View A&M) were in attendance. They
had been invited to “sit in on the meeting to review some of the latest
developments, on the national level, with respect to the forthcoming
merger… (p. 3). Dr. Tenney then discussed the various legal issues and
actions that were involved in the merger, He indicated the “…we have been
cooperating closely with the Civil Rights Commission on the integration of
the FFA and NFA organizations, in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of
1964” (p. 3). Conoly, Johnson, and Norris are shown below.
[image: Conoly.jpg][image: Johnson.jpg][image: norris.jpg]

At the Board Meeting, five recommendations regarding the merger were agreed
upon. See the portions of the Minutes regarding the merger that are in the
attached document (p. 8):

1.       State committees should be established to work out state-level
issues regarding the merger (it should be noted that five states merged
their NFA and FFA prior to the national merger. New Jersey, West Virginia
and Maryland are the ones I have documented. I don't know the other two).

2.       Have professional Negro Educators serve as Board Consultants
during the merger.

3.       The merger will become effective on July 1, 1965 (in earlier
discussions June 1, 1968, was the target date for the merger but that was
not approved by officials in the Office of Education)

4.       The NFA will be allowed to hold one final convention in 1965 to
wrap things up (they had been told by a federal education official at the
1964 NFA convention that this would be the last. That was a shock).

5.       NFA members are to be encouraged to attend the 1965 FFA convention
where special activities will be planned.

Dr. Tenney indicated the recommendations would be presented to the
Commissioner of Education for his approval.  The recommendations would also
be presented to state advisors at their meeting at the convention.  (Note:
Keppel did respond to Tenney and changed item 2 to state that the NFA and
FFA Boards would be involved in the merger).

*1965*. A. W. Tenney sent a letter (dated February 4, 1965) to Education
Commissioner Keppel to update him on the progress of the merger. He said
everybody was on board and there were definite plans to complete the merger
(see attached document, p. 10)

There was a joint meeting of the student officers and adult officers of the
FFA and NFA in July of 1965. At this meeting, the NFA leadership made
several requests in the form of resolutions. The requests were to have
equitable representation on the FFA Board, have a permanent civil service
position in Washington in the Agricultural Education Service to be filled
by a black person, and to allow monies in the state NFA coffers to be used
by former NFA chapters to buy FFA paraphernalia to replace their NFA
paraphernalia. The photo below is the 1965 board meeting.
[image: Joint Board Meeting 7.29.65.jpg]

The resolutions were referred to the FFA governing committee (see attached
document, p. 12). What happened to the requests? The FFA Board *was not*
restructured to include black representation. The request for a new Civil
Service position *was not* approved by the Office of Education. However, in
1967 a black person, J. W. Warren, Jr from North Carolina, was appointed to
a position in the Agricultural Education Service and served until the early
1980s. Mr. Warren had been an NFA national president and was a state level
supervisor in North Carolina. Each former NFA chapter did receive $12 to
purchase FFA paraphernalia

Most people think the actual merger of the FFA and NFA occurred at the 1965
National FFA Convention. There was an impressive ceremony (more about that
in the future) and the NFA chorus performed. However, the date of July 1,
1965, was the official merger date agreed to by the NFA, FFA, and Office of
Education (The FHA-NHA merger date was July 15, 1965). After July 1, 1965,
the NFA no longer “officially” existed.

[image: NFA choir 1965 convention.jpg]

The photo shows the NFA choir performing at the National Convention in
1965. Since the merger was official in July, you will note the choir
members are wearing FFA jackets.  The NFA chorus was made up of state
winning NFA quartets.

*Concluding Remarks*

One should realize different terms have been used to describe the joining
of the two organizations. We commonly hear the word “merger”. However, in
the literature, we also find the words “absorption”, “swallow-up”,
“Termination”, and “hostile takeover.” Next week we will look at the
“merger” from various viewpoints. This Footnote focused on the facts of the
merger. Next week we will look at the emotions, feelings, and impact of the

A question to think about – At the time of the NFA-FFA merger there were
separate teacher organizations for “colored” and “white” teachers in the
South. In the 1966 Agriculture Teachers Directory Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia are
listed as having separate agriculture teacher organizations segregated by
race. How long did it take for them to merge?

One Observation – In preparing this Friday Footnote I found references to
various meetings and documents of which I could find no record. That either
means I didn’t dig deep enough, or the documentation doesn’t exist. I found
enough information to adequately substantiate the facts about the FFA-NFA
merger, but someone should take the time and effort to develop a more
detailed account of the merger.


Norris, E. M. (1993). *Forty Long Years*. Prairie View, TX. Prairie View
A&M College

Strickland, D. (1994). *New Farmers of America in Retrospect: The Formative
Years 1935-1965*. Homestead, TX: Joyco Printing.

Tenney, A. W. (1977). *The FFA at 50: A Golden Past A Brighter Future*.
Alexandria, VA. FFA Supply Service.

Wakefield, D.B.  & Talbert, B. A. (2000). *Exploring the Past of the New
Farmers of American (NFA): The Merger with the FFA*. 27th Annual National
Agricultural Education Research Conference, (pp. 420-431). San Diego. This
document is attached.

These two dissertations provided valuable background information and were
the source of some of the attached documents.

Gilman, Donald (2013). Examining the Merger of the NFA and FFA
<>. Auburn University.

Wakefield, Dexter (2001). Impact of the New Farmers of America (NFA) on
selected past members: A historical narrative
<>. Purdue University.

Friday Footnote Archive

Gary Moore
Professor Emeritus
Agricultural and Extension Education
North Carolina State University
[log in to unmask]
919.280.7047 <>