|Back to February Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 205||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||FEBRUARY 2003|
In this interesting biographical compilation, Bill Federer explains the renowned agricultural scientist George Washington Carver through Carver's personal correspondence. Over the years Dr. Carver wrote many letters to benefactors, friends, students, colleagues, and even critics, manifesting his amazing faith and personal philosophy.
George Washington Carver was born a slave in Neosho, Missouri at the end of the Civil War, probably in 1865, although there are no records. Orphaned by marauding killers who took the lives of his mother and brother when he was very young, Carver was taken in by well-meaning people in his young life, and through hard work and determination, obtained an education. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in Scientific Agriculture from Iowa State College. He also studied art, literature, and music at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. In 1928, he received an honorary doctorate from Simpson College.
Despite his education, Dr. Carver insisted that his work was inspired by his Creator. He willingly shared his strong faith in his letters and speeches. In 1920, he told an audience of young Christian men: "the Great Creator taught me to take the peanut apart and put it together again. And out of the process have come forth all these products!"
In 1897, the distinguished educator, Booker T. Washington, persuaded Carver to leave his comfortable position on the staff of Iowa State College to come to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, a struggling school for blacks. "Our students are poor, often starving," Washington wrote. "We teach them to read and write, but words cannot fill stomachs. They need to learn how to plant and harvest crops."
Dr. Carver dedicated the rest of his life to research at Tuskeegee. In his laboratory, he discovered 300 uses for the peanut, more than 118 uses for the sweet potato, 60 for the pecan, and dozens of uses for other crops, including soybeans and okra. Always, he was inspired, motivated by, and devoted to his God.
Author Federer credits his maternal grandfather with introducing him to the life of Dr. Carver. "Many times we visited the George Washington Carver memorial in Diamond Grove (Mo.). We would imagine young George touching the tiny plants and flowers, knowing someday he would touch the world."
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