Friday, February 1, 2013

BLACK HISTORY MONTH No. 1: 12 Cool Things To Know About George Washington Carver

"Education is the key 
to unlock the golden door 
of freedom."

"When you do the common things in life 
in an uncommon way, 
you will command 
the attention of the world."

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited 
broadcasting station, 
through which God speaks to us 
every hour, if we will only tune in."  

George Washington Carver  
1864? ~ 1943
What a cool face, no?

1. Around 1865, at the end of the Civil War, when George was an infant, night riders kidnapped him, his sister, and his mom, Mary, from their owners, Moses and Susan Carver.  They were farmers down around the village of Diamond Grove, in southwestern Missouri.  Moses got people to search for them, but only baby George was recovered.

2. No one really knows exactly when GWC was born, but we do know that poor baby George nearly died of whooping cough. This may account for his unusually high voice. Toward the end of this LINK you can hear him.

3. Not until he was a young man did George adopt 'Washington' for his middle name.

4. He was just a boy, barely into his teens, George, a very inquisitive young man, set out walking to where he could get an education, a nearly impossible thing for an African American in 1870s America.
Still, he managed to graduate from high school in Minneapolis, KS.

5.  He supported himself by doing people's laundry.

6.  George was accepted into Highland College in northeastern Kansas, then turned away because of the color of his skin.

7. For a while, in the 1880s, GWC was a Kansas homesteader, living in a sod house he built himself.

8. Eventually, GWC became the first black student at Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University). Not only did he graduate (with a degree in agriculture), GWC became a faculty member.  
9.  Though GWC specialized in agriculture and botany, he was an accomplished musician and a painter. In fact, a couple of his paintings were displayed at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.

10.  The world famous speaker, activist, and educator, Booker T. Washington hired GWC as a professor at his Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama.

11.  Of course charismatic GWC, the "Peanut Man,"  is known for his experiments with peanuts, as a way to help southern farmers break their soil-killing addiction to raising cotton and nothing but cotton. He even testified to his findings before the U.S. Congress. But Geo. Wash. Carver earned national fame for his methods of treating and easing the suffering of those, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who were crippled by polio.

12.  After Dr. Carver (not a real doctor, but GWC was called that out of respect for his life of learning and teaching) passed away on January 5, 1943, a National Monument was dedicated to him - the first such honor for any American who had not been a U.S. president. You can experience the George Washington Carver National Monument part of the National Park Service, at Diamond, MO, GWC's birthplace. It is well worth the visit.  And the charismatic man himself is well worth the knowing.

To read more about GWC, there are plenty of fine books, but please DO check out mine: The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER and SCIENCE and INVENTION in AMERICA.    

No comments:

Post a Comment