People Who Kick Buts: George Washington Carver
Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
- Born on January 1864 and passed away on January 5, 1943.
- Was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. He is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri.
- Carver’s reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes, which also aided nutrition for farm families. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops both as a source of their own food and as a source of other products to improve their quality of life.
- The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts. He also developed and promoted about 100 products made from peanuts that were useful for the house and farm, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin. He received numerous honors for his work, including the Spingarn Medal of the NAACP.
- He was recognized for his many achievements and talents. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a “Black Leonardo”.
- Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri, possibly in 1864 or 1865, though the exact date is not known. His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George’s parents, Mary and Giles, from William P. McGinnis on October 9, 1855, for $700. Carver had 10 sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.
- When George was only a week old, George, a sister, and his mother were kidnapped by night raiders from Arkansas.
- The kidnappers sold the slaves in Kentucky. Moses Carver hired John Bentley to find them, but he located only the infant George. Moses negotiated with the raiders to gain the boy’s return and rewarded Bentley.
- Black people were not allowed at the public school in Diamond Grove. Learning there was a school for black children 10 miles (16 km) south in Neosho, George decided to go there. When he reached the town, he found the school closed for the night. He slept in a nearby barn. By his own account, the next morning he met a kind woman, Mariah Watkins, from whom he wished to rent a room. When he identified himself as “Carver’s George,” as he had done his whole life, she replied that from now on his name was “George Carver”.
George liked this lady very much, and her words, “You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people”, made a great impression on him.