Our Diverse Heritage: Marion’s Black History Part 8

Celebrating Black History Month in Marion County

Part 8: Geraldine Belmear and the Black Cooperative Extension Service

Geraldine Carpenter Belmear began her career in 1948 by West Virginia State College as the Extension Agent to serve black families of Barbour, Harrison, Taylor and Upshur. In 1961, her area grew with Marion and Monongalia Counties added. Her professional responsibility included education and leadership development working with 4-H clubs, homemaker organizations, young men and women’s clubs and other community organizations.

From the early 1900s, the segregated U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension programs were based at WVU (white) and WV State College (black). By 1965, the two systems were merged, and
Geraldine was appointed to the position of Home Demonstration Agent for Marion County in 1966 (a first for Marion County as prior agents were all white). When this occurred, she became the first African American extension agent in the United States to lead an integrated Home Demonstration program in a single county.

She worked in Extension through the late 1960s. Locally, most baby boomers can remember hearing her early morning radio show on WMMN. She offered nutrition and news from the Extension
Service as well as recipe for healthy diets. She was well respected among the state Cooperative Extension program at WVU.

Horace was born in KY in 1916. While attending West Virginia State College, he met and married his sweetheart, Geraldine Carpenter on June 5, 1939. They both graduated in 1940 and began working for the U.S. government. He later joined the faculty at Dunbar School in Fairmont as a teacher and athletic coach taking his teams to 3 state titles. In 1971, he became the Director of Foreign Admissions at WVU. He then became Assistant Dean of Admissions and Records in 1979. The next year he began working with the recruitment and retention of African American students until his retirement in 1993. He has received numerous awards and honors in his lifetime including the WVSC Sports Hall of Fame and the WVU Physical Education Hall of Fame.

Geraldine joined WVU in the late 1960s in advising and advocacy for minority women.



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