Black History Month 2021
Lamar Fort improved farming practices at home and abroad
Born in Live Oak, Florida, on October 6, 1909, Lamar Edward Fort was the son of Pattie and Carrie Thomas Fort. Being part of a farming family appears to have instilled in Lamar a love of agriculture and the soil.
Lamar earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Florida A & M University with further studies at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Atlanta University and the Moravia College in Liberia, where he received his Ph.D. He taught agriculture in Black schools in Kissimmee, Vero Beach and Apalachicola, and was the first principal of Kissimmee High School when it opened in the mid-1930s.
Lamar married Alberta Meuse on July 31, 1935, in Leon County, Florida. In 1942 he became director of agriculture at Bethune Cookman College and while there, organized the New Farmeretts of America, an agricultural program for girls.
The U.S. Government assigned him to the Point-4 Security Program in 1944 and sent him to Liberia, where he served for 10 years, rendering technical assistance to native farmers in nurseries and demonstration farms. They learned improved farming practices with both native and imported plants. Good roads were limited so Lamar did much of his traveling on foot, following jungle trails. Moving to Libya in 1954, Lamar worked with the desert farmers before being transferred to Ghana in 1957. His work in Ghana involved agricultural engineering for the building of small dams, resulting in increased crop production. Lamar also established a training center where young men learned the care, maintenance and operation of farm machinery.
Dr. Lamar Fort’s work aided in the increased and improved production of export crops, such as coffee, cocoa and palm oils. He was well-known throughout West Africa as one of the pioneers in the Point-4 Program.
Lamar and Alberta returned to Kissimmee to retire. He died on June 1, 1976; Alberta died on September 17, 2007. Both are buried in Osceola Memory Gardens in Kissimmee. They were blessed with two children, Lamar Jr. and Brenda.
Written by Anza Bast
Sources: Ancestry.com; “Kissimmee Gazette” December 7, 1956; “Orlando Sentinel” June 4, 1976 obituary; photo from “The Orlando Sentinel” December 10, 1956.