George Washington Carver — Scientist, Educator, Man of Faith

How an Ex-Slave Changed Agriculture in the Post-Civil War South
“It is simply service that measures success.” — George Washington Carver
In 1976, President Gerald Ford instituted Black History Month in honor of “…the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Today we will explore the life and legacy of one such deserving man, George Washington Carver. He’s one of the least-known Black Americans who are recognized this month.

To some, he’s the peanut guy, and others know he’s connected to Tuskegee somehow.

But there’s so much more to George Washington Carver than that, and there are many lessons to learn from his life.

He is known throughout the world for his scientific research and is credited with being a force in creating racial understanding.

Early days

“Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.” — George Washington Carver
George was born into slavery on his master, Moses Carver’s, plantation near Diamond, Missouri, in July 1864.

During the Civil War, Moses’s farm was raided and George, only a week old, and his mother were taken away to Arkansas to be sold.

Later when Moses’s hired scout was able to locate George, his mother was nowhere to be found. Motherless and sick, George was returned to Carver’s plantation and nursed back to health.

In later life, George credits this incident for instilling in him the belief that he was destined to do great things.

George’s quest for education

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” – George Washington Carver
After the abolition of slavery in 1865, George stayed on at the Carver plantation and was raised by Moses and his wife, Sarah, who nurtured his love of nature and plants.

Being sickly as a young boy, George was allowed to spend many hours in the woods where he gathered plants and kept a secret garden. His knowledge of plants grew and he became known as the “plant doctor”, nursing people’s ailing plants back to health.

“When I was just a mere tot in short dresses my very soul thirsted for an education. I literally lived in the woods. I wanted to know every strange stone, flower, insect, bird, or beast. No one could tell me. My only book was an old Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book. I would seek the answer here without satisfaction.” — George Washington Carver
When Carver was 10 or 12 years old, unable to attend the local all-white school, he began his long quest to get an education.

He got his high school diploma in his late 20s and struggled for decades to obtain a college degree.

In 1894, he earned his BS degree from the Iowa Agricultural College. He went on to earn his Master of Science in 1896, specializing in bacterial botany.

He became the first Black staff at the university, which later became known as Iowa State University.

Later Booker T. Washington invited Carver to come to Tuskegee Institute.


“When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is for me alone.' So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well George, that's more nearly your size.' And he told me.”

― George Washington Carver
George was the first person to bring science to Tuskegee.

He came with the intent to “uplift a backward people.”
Conditions were poor, but never one to give up, George dug through the landfill junk for glass jars and old bottles to equip his laboratory.

At the time, cotton was the cash crop of the Deep South and was depleting the farmland, leaving it worthless. Erosion was a problem and the land couldn’t sustain a cover crop.

George believed he could show the farmers ways to be less reliant on cotton.

He was intent on teaching farmers ways they could improve their economic situation and livelihood. His goal was to help them become more self-reliant through self-sufficiency and conservation by using organic fertilizers and plant rotations of sweet potatoes, soybeans, and peanuts.

Carver was also concerned about the quality of the farmers’ diet and knew peanuts and soybeans would provide nitrogen to the soil while being a source of protein for the farmer.

He began his education program by giving farmers free, easy-to-understand brochures that included farming techniques and recipes for nutritious meals. He also encouraged them to have their soil and water tested and taught them how to care for their livestock and preserve food.

He even had a school on wheels that took his “classroom” to farmers around Alabama.

When adopted by southern farmers, Carver’s methods produced an excessive amount of peanuts and sweet potatoes. There wasn’t much of a market for them, so Carver turned to his laboratory once again.
“Within ten days George Washington Carver had ‘discovered’ more than 300 uses for the peanut. One trip to that special place in the woods to talk with God not only enhanced race relations at the time but also fundamentally changed the agricultural industry as we know it today. All because he listened to and felt the spirit of God in his life.” – Andy Andrews, author of The Lost Choice: A Legend of Personal Discovery

Carver’s desire to serve humanity

“I know that my Redeemer lives. Thank God I love humanity, complexion doesn't interest me one single bit.” – George Washington Carver
Although Carver witnessed and was a victim of racism and discrimination himself, he never gave in to bitterness or anger. He worked to improve conditions for Blacks through education and acquiring new skills rather than using politics.

He stressed reconciliation, harmony, and seeking goodwill as well as compromise and economic development for Blacks as a way to improve their lives.

Today, Carver’s legacy lives on, and we see how his hopes have been realized when he said,
"Someday I will have to leave this world, and when that day comes, I want to feel that my life has been of some service to my fellow man."

Our mission at No More Dirty

At No More Dirty, Inc., we strive to live in the spirit of George Washington Carver, valuing lives and extending help to the least of these, our brothers and sisters, without regard to race or color.

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