George Washington Carver
(Note: Though long, keep reading for
the highlight of the story.)
people have heard this man's name and possibly some know his story, but not many
know just how religious this man was. Born during the days of slavery near
Diamond Grove, Missouri, in 1864, Carver's parents were slaves.
The young Carver fell in love with the wonders of nature, a passion that earned
him the lifetime nickname of the "plant doctor". As a youngster, he was denied
an education by law, because of his race. While working as a farmhand, however,
he obtained a high school education. Later at the age of 30, he was the first
African American student to be admitted to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa
(just down the road from this writer). He then attended Iowa Agricultural
College (now Iowa State University) in Ames, Iowa, where he received his bachelor's degree in
agricultural science in 1894. Two years later, he received his master's degree
from this Iowa college and became the first African American on its faculty. As
his fame spread, Booker T. Washington offered Carver a faculty position at the
Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Claim to Fame
What most people know about Carver are his inventions and innovations that
revolutionized the southern agricultural economy. Even Henry Ford offered him an
opportunity to work at the Ford Foundation, something unheard of in those days
for an African American. Carver turned him down, however, saying he "felt he
could do more for his people" in Tuskegee and by his people, he meant
everyone, regardless of race. He looked at the entire town and surrounding
area as "his people". He was offered many other positions that would have made
him wealthy, but he turned those down, as well.
Carver showed that 300 products, including peanut butter, could be derived from
the peanut; while 118 different products could be derived from the sweet potato.
These and other discoveries by Carver liberated the South from its dependence
upon cotton. By 1940, peanuts were the second largest cash crop in the South,
thanks to his efforts.
His Real Claim to Fame
George Washington Carver was a very humble man, who dealt with racism and
prejudice but refused to be affected by it. He was a very devout Christian.
He chose to serve God and his fellowman, which included all races.
He once asked God to show him all of the secrets to the universe; but God told
him that his mind was too small to understand it all. So, Carver asked God to
instead teach him all the mysteries of the peanut and He did. Carver always to the day
he died gave all the credit to God for his discoveries, saying that "God worked through him" or
"God was the total inspiration for them".
Although Carver held three patents, he didn't patent the bulk of his many
discoveries. His reasoning? "God gave them to me, how can I sell them to someone
else?" Besides, his inventions were for the benefit of others. "His people" were
starving and didn't have money to care for themselves. His discoveries helped
"his people" to survive. And he wasn't ashamed to boldly proclaim, "The Lord has
guided me. Without my Savior, I am nothing!"
Carver died in 1943 at the age of 79 in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Faith played an important part in
the lives of many great people around the world.
Isn't it sad that the Christian part of these people, the part that made them
"great", is being omitted from our history books?
It's time we put a stop to it!
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