Black History Month: Inventor George Washington Carver


Coined by Time magazine as the “Black Leonardo” of his time, George Washington Carver is much more than the man that created the most important ingredient to peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Born into slavery in the 1860’s, Carver was introduced to the importance of reading and education early on. After the abolishment of slavery, he attempted to enroll in several colleges to no avail. While looking to be accepted to a college (many would accept then later reject due to his race), George began his interest in farming and agriculture by maintaining his own small conservatory. Later studies included art & music as well.

In 1896, he was appointed the first principle and president of Tuskegee University. Many of his accomplishments during his time there included: teaching generations of black farmers self sufficiency, designing a mobile classroom that came to farmers & improving soils that were depleted due to repeated plantings of cotton.

His fame was on the rise during that time. Before being publicly recognized, Carver’s influence shown through the hiring of many of his former professors that were appointed into presidential cabinets. Both President’s Roosevelt, Coolidge and the Crown Prince of Sweden came to him for advice. A deep friendship formulated with Henry Ford due to their interest in the regenerative properties of soil and the potential for soybeans and peanuts to create plastics, fuel and paint. In turn Ford donated generously to Tuskegee Institute and research.

Declining health led to limited mobility. A fall at home ultimately led to his death in 1943. His museum, The George Washington Carver National Monument was the first dedicated to an African American showcasing his work.

His work included roughly 300 reputed inventions for peanuts, paintings, patents, research & writings.

Awards & Honors:

1890 he was the first black student at Simpson University
1893 his paintings get honorable mention at Chicago World Fair
1894 he got a bachelor in agriculture degree
1894 he was appointed member of faculty, Iowa State College
1896 he achieved Master of Agriculture Degree, Iowa State College
1923 he won Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, awarded annually for outstanding achievement
1928 he received honorary doctorate from Simpson College
1939 the Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Southern Agriculture
1940 Carver established the George Washington Carver Foundation at the Tuskegee Institute
1941 The George Washington Carver Museum was dedicated at the Tuskegee Institute
1941 he was received recipient, Award of Merit by Variety Clubs of America
1942 Ford built a replica of Carver’s birth cabin at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn as a tribute
1942 Ford dedicated a laboratory in Dearborn named after Carver
1943 Liberty ship SS George Washington Carver launched
1965 Ballistic missile submarine USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) launched
1969 Iowa State University constructs Carver Hall in honor of Carver– a graduate of the university
1990 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
1998 the second Carver stamp (32¢) issued
2007 the Missouri Botanical Gardens has a garden area named in his honor, with a commemorative statue and material about his work

Via Steve Harvey