As many know, George Washington Carver was a prominent African-American scientist and inventor and best known for discovering the many uses of peanut butter as well as a proponent of crop rotation and agricultural education.
Early Life and Education
George Washington Carver was one of many born to slaves, where he was sold in Kentucky and until the end of the Civil War, decided to stay at their home after that time. Carver’s mother taught him to read and write, since no local school would accept black students.
He received his high school diploma at Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas. Once more though, his hunger for education showed in his education in arts and music at Simpson College in Iowa, developing his painting and drawing skills through sketches of botanical samples. He would eventually enroll at the botany program at Iowa State Agricultural College.
His graduate studies were at Iowa Experiment Station, where Carver began his work as a great botonist. When he began there, he was the first black student. His work at the Station gained him national recognition and was the first black faculty member at Iowa State.
Tuskegee Institute Faculty and Scientist
Tuskegee’s agricultural department achieved national renown under Carver’s leadership, with a curriculum that contributed directly to the effort of economic stabilization. He published bulletins and gave demonstrations on such topics as using native clays for paints, increasing soil fertility without commercial fertilizers, and growing alternative crops along with the ubiquitous cotton and developed several uses of crops like cow peas, sweet potatoes and peanuts, to increase their appeal.
In the late 1920s, Carver stopped teaching and doing plot work, but instead was devoted to lecture tours of white college campuses, sponsored by the Commission on Interracial Cooperation and the YMCA.
Carver never made a significant scientific contribution or developed no commercially feasible new products, but his ideas were sustainable which helped enrich the lives of many sharecroppers and became a symbol of African-American success.