Burnette, Atlas Crawford(born: 1885 - died: 1960)
Atlas Burnette, born in North Carolina, was the second African American employed by the University of Kentucky Agricultural Extension Service, where he began work in 1919 and from which he retired in 1944. He was specifically in charge of Negro extension work in Kentucky.
Burnette was a 1903 graduate of North Carolina A&M College [now North Carolina State University], where he taught for a few years after his graduation. Before arriving in Kentucky, he had several other jobs related to the beginnings of the Lincoln Institute: He helped clear the fields for the construction of the school, and once the school was in operation taught agriculture for six years. He left the state for a brief period, returning to head the Kentucky State College Agricultural Department [now Kentucky State University] for three and a half years before becoming an agent with the UK Agricultural Extension Service in 1919.
Burnette was hired by Dean Thomas P. Cooper. Among his many responsibilities, Burnette assisted with the development of 4-H for Negro youth, which grew to have more than 5,000 members. He organized the Negro Club in Madison County, KY, where he had been an assistant. Also during his tenure, the number of meat cattle owned by Negro farmers more than tripled and food crop production doubled.
After his retirement, Burnette was replaced by John Finch. In 1947, A. C. Burnette Day was held in Hopkinsville, KY. In 1952, there were three African American agricultural agents and six home demonstration agents, all serving 32 counties. In those counties with few Negro farmers, all farmers were served by the white county agent.
According to A. C. Burnette's World War I Draft Registration Card submitted to the Local Board of Franklin County, KY and dated September 12, 1918, he was born February 28, 1885 and was the husband of Florence Bradley Burnette. He died October 7, 1960 and is buried in the Cove Haven Cemetery in Lexington, KY.
For more see J. T. Vaughn, "Farm agent fears work cut life span from 100 to 80," Lexington Leader, 6/16/1952, p. 8. See also The College of Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Kentucky, by J. A. Smith; and the Thomas Poe Cooper Papers at the University of Kentucky's Special Collections Research Center.
*[A. L. Garvin was the first African American hired by the UK Agricultrual Extension Service in July 1918 as a (Colored) Emergency Assistant County Agent for Mercer County with a one-year contract at $100 per month ($66.67 per month paid by the Emergency Fund). See the October 1918 University of Kentucky, Board of Trustees Minutes, p. 4.]