George Washington Carver: Grandfather of Sustainability

Rubicon Global’s George Washington Carver Award Recipient: Ashish Juneja
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In , Carver wrote to a peanut company about the potential he saw for peanut milk. He discussed "The Possibilities of the Peanut" and exhibited peanut products. By , the U. In , peanut farmers and industry representatives planned to appear at Congressional hearings to ask for a tariff. Based on the quality of Carver's presentation at their convention, they asked the African-American professor to testify on the tariff issue before the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Due to segregation , it was highly unusual for an African American to appear as an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers. Southern congressmen, reportedly shocked at Carver's arriving to testify, were said to have mocked him. The Fordney—McCumber Tariff of was passed including one on imported peanuts. Carver's testifying to Congress made him widely known as a public figure.

During the last two decades of his life, Carver seemed to enjoy his celebrity status. He was often on the road promoting Tuskegee University , peanuts , and racial harmony. Although he only published six agricultural bulletins after , he published articles in peanut industry journals and wrote a syndicated newspaper column, "Professor Carver's Advice".

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Business leaders came to seek his help, and he often responded with free advice. From to , Carver toured white Southern colleges for the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.

George Washington Carver: Grandfather of Sustainability - Part I - US Represented

With his increasing notability, Carver became the subject of biographies and articles. Raleigh H. Merritt contacted him for his biography published in Merritt wrote:. At present not a great deal has been done to utilize Dr. Carver's discoveries commercially. He says that he is merely scratching the surface of scientific investigations of the possibilities of the peanut and other Southern products. In , the writer James Saxon Childers wrote that Carver and his peanut products were almost solely responsible for the rise in U.

Other popular media tended to exaggerate Carver's impact on the peanut industry. From to , Carver worked to develop peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis polio. Carver had specialized in plant diseases and mycology for his master's degree. In , Carver attended two chemurgy conferences, an emerging field in the s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl , concerned with developing new products from crops. That year Carver's health declined, and Ford later installed an elevator at the Tuskegee dormitory where Carver lived, so that the elderly man would not have to climb stairs.

Carver had been frugal in his life, and in his seventies he established a legacy by creating a museum of his work, as well as the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee in to continue agricultural research. Carver never married.

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At age 40, he began a courtship with Sarah L. Hunt, an elementary school teacher and the sister-in-law of Warren Logan, Treasurer of Tuskegee Institute.


This lasted three years until she took a teaching job in California. When he was 70, Carver established a friendship and research partnership with the scientist Austin W. Curtis, Jr. This young black man, a graduate of Cornell University , had some teaching experience before coming to Tuskegee. Carver bequeathed to Curtis his royalties from an authorized biography by Rackham Holt. He left Alabama and resettled in Detroit.

There he manufactured and sold peanut-based personal care products. Upon returning home one day, Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, , at the age of 78 from complications anemia resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. On his grave was written, He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

Even as an adult Carver spoke with a high pitch. Historian Linda O. McMurry noted that he "was a frail and sickly child" who suffered "from a severe case of whooping cough and frequent bouts of what was called croup. Frequent infections of that nature could have caused the growth of polyps on the larynx and may have resulted from a gamma globulin deficiency.

There are some rumors that Carver was castrated. Harley Flack and Edmund Pellegrino's book African-American Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics reports that Carver was castrated by a physician at age 11 at the request of his white master.

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A friend of Carver's was told by the autopsy doctors — according to Carver's biographer Peter Burchard, who told this to Iowa Public Radio in — that Carver had only scar tissue instead of testicles. Carver believed he could have faith both in God and science and integrated them into his life. He testified on many occasions that his faith in Jesus was the only mechanism by which he could effectively pursue and perform the art of science.

I was just a mere boy when converted, hardly ten years old. There isn't much of a story to it. God just came into my heart one afternoon while I was alone in the 'loft' of our big barn while I was shelling corn to carry to the mill to be ground into meal. A dear little white boy, one of our neighbors, about my age came by one Saturday morning, and in talking and playing he told me he was going to Sunday school tomorrow morning.

I was eager to know what a Sunday school was. He said they sang hymns and prayed.

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Time Magazine. I asked him what prayer was and what they said. These Caribbean Moravians had sailed to the Gold Coast with seedlings including those of breadfruit, guava, pear, cocoyam, cocoa and sweet potato to grow on their farms in southern Ghana; crops which have now become staples in the Ghanaian agricultural economy. Outside of the life sciences, he taught math to adult education students. The exact date of his birth is uncertain and was not known to Carver.

I asked him what prayer was and what they said. I do not remember what he said; only remember that as soon as he left I climbed up into the 'loft,' knelt down by the barrel of corn and prayed as best I could. I do not remember what I said. I only recall that I felt so good that I prayed several times before I quit. My brother and myself were the only colored children in that neighborhood and of course, we could not go to church or Sunday school, or school of any kind.

He was not expected to live past his 21st birthday due to failing health. He lived well past the age of 21, and his belief deepened as a result. He relied on them especially when criticized by the scientific community and media regarding his research methodology. Carver viewed faith in Jesus Christ as a means of destroying both barriers of racial disharmony and social stratification. He compiled a list of eight cardinal virtues for his students to strive toward:. Beginning in at Tuskegee, Carver led a Bible class on Sundays for several students at their request.

He regularly portrayed stories by acting them out. A movement to establish a U. Because of World War II , such non-war expenditures had been banned by presidential order.

Jan. 5, 1943: George Washington Carver, King of Crops, Dies

Missouri senator Harry S. Truman sponsored a bill in favor of a monument. In a committee hearing on the bill, one supporter said:. The bill is not simply a momentary pause on the part of busy men engaged in the conduct of the war, to do honor to one of the truly great Americans of this country, but it is in essence a blow against the Axis , it is in essence a war measure in the sense that it will further unleash and release the energies of roughly 15,, Negro people in this country for full support of our war effort.

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On July 14, , [65] President Franklin D. This was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and the first to honor someone other than a president. The acre 0. The national monument opened in July In December , a fire broke out in the Carver Museum, and much of the collection was damaged. Time magazine reported that all but three of the 48 Carver paintings at the museum were destroyed.

His best-known painting, displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition of in Chicago, depicts a yucca and cactus. This canvas survived and has undergone conservation. It is displayed together with several of his other paintings. Carver was featured on U. From to , he was depicted on the commemorative Carver-Washington half dollar coin along with Booker T. In , he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In , the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, opened a George Washington Carver garden in his honor, which includes a life-size statue of him. Many institutions continue to honor George Washington Carver.

Dozens of elementary schools and high schools are named after him. Carver was given credit in popular folklore for many inventions that did not come out of his lab.

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He did not keep a laboratory notebook. Mackintosh notes that, "Carver did not explicitly claim that he had personally discovered all the peanut attributes and uses he cited, but he said nothing to prevent his audiences from drawing the inference. A misconception grew that his research on products for subsistence farmers were developed by others commercially to change Southern agriculture. Carver worked on improving soils, growing crops with low inputs, and using species that fixed nitrogen hence, the work on the cowpea and the peanut.

Carver wrote in 'The Need of Scientific Agriculture in the South': "The virgin fertility of our soils and the vast amount of unskilled labor have been more of a curse than a blessing to agriculture. This exhaustive system for cultivation, the destruction of forest, the rapid and almost constant decomposition of organic matter, have made our agricultural problem one requiring more brains than of the North, East or West.

Carver worked for years to create a company to market his products. The most important was the Carver Penol Company, which sold a mixture of creosote and peanuts as a patent medicine for respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis.