Our favorite time of the year is finally here!
It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.
George Washington Carver
There is not an exact date in history that we know for George Washington Carver’s birthdate but it has been predicted that he was most likely born in 1864 in Diamond, Missouri during the years of the Civil War. Carver was one of many children to Mary and Giles, an enslaved couple by Moses Carver.
Only one week after his birth, he was kidnapped along with his sister and mother from the Carver farm by raiders from the neighboring states. They three were sold in Kentucky. George though, was located by an agent of Moses Carver and he was returned to Missouri.
The Civil War ended in 1865, bringing an end to slavery as well. Moses and his wife, Susan ended up keeping George and his brother James at their home for sometime. The educated the two boys. Susan taught George to read and write since there were no local schools that would accept black students.
As George became a young man, he left the Carver home to travel to a school for black children.
Becoming George Washington Carver
George, who had known himself to be “Carver’s George” all of his life became George Carver. He attended a series of schools and later earned his diploma at Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas.
Carver was accepted to Highland College in Highland, Kansas. When the school learned of his race, they denied him admittance. Instead of going to school, George conducted his own experiments and collection.
In addition to his interests in science, he began studying art and music at Simpson College in Iowa. He developed his own painting and drawings though sketches of botanical samples. His skill was so impressive, a teacher took notice and suggest that he enroll in a botany program at the Iowa State Agricultural College. Carver later moved to Ames, where he began his botanical studies.
One year later, he became the first black student at Iowa State. To no surprise, Carver excelled in his studies and received his Bachelor of Science degree. Two professors, Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel persuaded Carver to stay at the institution to earn his master’s degree.
Upon graduating from Iowa State, Carver began his career of teaching and research. Booker T. Washington, the principal of the African American Tuskegee Institue hired Carver to run the institution’s agricultural department in 1896.
In addition to his teachings in the classroom, Carver had a mobile classroom to teach his lessons to farmers. This was known as the “Jesup Wagon.” President Theodore Roosevelt took notice of Carver’s work and came to him for advice on agricultural matters in the country.
Did you say peanut butter?
No, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter but he did research into new and alternate use for peanuts. George Washington Carver invented hundreds of products that include peanuts (milk, plastics, paints, dyes, cosmetics, medicinal oils, soap, ink, wood strains) and 118 from sweet potatoes (molasses, postage stamp glue, flour, vinegar, and synthetic rubber).
After giving a speech before the Peanut Growers Association in 1920, Carver became known as “The Peanut Man.” A year after giving that speech, Carver testified before Congress in support of a tariff on imported peanuts. Congress passed in 1922.
George Washington Carver passed away January 5th, 1943 at the age of 78-years old from falling down the stairs in his home. Carver was buried beside Booker T. Washington on the Tuskegee grounds.
The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center was created in Austin, Texas and displays his work and includes some of his own paintings and drawings. Unfortunately, a fire in December 1947 broke out in the museum and destroyed much of the collection. One of the surviving works is now displayed at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
In addition, Carver established the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee to support future research of agriculture.
Before his death
Harry S. Truman sponsored a bill in favor of a monument during World War II. The bill passed unanimously in both houses. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicate $30,000 for the monument west of Diamond, Missouri – the site of the plantation where Carver lived as a child.
This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American. The 210-acre complex includes his statue, a natural trail, museum, and cemetery. In 2005, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis opened the George Washington Carver Garden. It includes a life-size statue of the garden’s famous namesake!
All information obtained on Biography
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