In a field dominated by Whites, a few Blacks stand out. One of them is George Washington Carver, a biologist who gained international fame for his agricultural research. He was especially toned for his work with peanuts. Carver made more than 300 products from peanuts, including a milk substitute, face powder, printer’s ink and soap. In addition, Carver who worked to promote the interest of Black and to improve relations between Blacks and Whites.
Carver was born a slave on a farm near Diamond, Missouri. Shortly after Carver’s birth, his father was killed in an accident and night raiders kidnapped his mother. Moses and Susan Carver, who were his owners until slavery was abolished in 1865, reared the child.
As a young boy, George showed a keen interest in plants and a great desire to learn. The Carvers taught him to read and write. When he was about 11 yrs old, he moved to Neosho, Missouri to attend and school for Black children.
For the next 20 years, Carver worked in various jobs to support himself and pay for his education. He received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1894 and his master’s degree in 1896.
Tuskegee instructor and researcher. In 1896, Carver moved to Alabama to join the faculty of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), an industrial and agricultural school for Blacks. Carver became head of the Tuskegee agricultural department and director of a sate agricultural station. He gradually began to direct his attention toward soil conservation and other ways to improve crop production. Carver sought to teach more productive agricultural practices to Southern farmers—particularly to Black farmers—through pamphlets, conferences, traveling exhibitions, demonstrations and public lectures.
In 1910, Carver became head of Tuskegee’s newly created Department of Research. After 1914, he began to focus his research on peanuts. He received national attention in 1921 when he lectured on the many uses of peanuts before a US Congress committee. He later gave lectures throughout much of the country in an effort to promote peanuts. He also spent much time working to improve race relations during the 1920s
Carver never married. In 1940, he gave his like savings of $33,000 to the Tuskegee Institutes to establish the George Washington Carver Research Foundation for agricultural research.
Awards and honors. Carver received many awards for his accomplishments. In 1916, he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, In 1923, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awarded him the Spingarn Medal for distinguished service in agricultural chemistry. In 1939, Carver received the Theodore Roosevelt Medal for his valuable contributions to science. In 1951, the George Washington Carver National Monument was established on an area of the Missouri farm where Carver was born. – Quest