Of the Week

Scientist of the Week

Written by Elijah Oliver

As February is coming to an end, we’re going to talk about famous African American Scientist

You may have heard of George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, but have you heard of George Washington Carver. People tend to mix these up a lot. It’s important to know the real importance of this African American revolutionary.

George Washington Carver was born in Diamond, Missouri in January or June 1864, a year before slavery was outlawed. Since it so far back, his specific birthday isn’t known. Carver grew up without his mother and his father, who died in an accident before his death.

At a very young age, Carver grew up interested in plants and chemicals and became known as “the plant doctor”, because of his ability to improve the gardens of others.

At 11, he was taken in by a childless couple that taught him about herbs and faith. Since school education wasn’t good, he moved to Kansas to receive a better education. He graduated from Minneapolis High School and got accepted into Highland College. When discovered that he was black, his acceptance was taken away and attended Simpson College. When his professor learned about his skill, she encouraged him to go to Iowa State Agriculture School which is now called Iowa State University. In 1894, Carver became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree and was asked to stay for further studies. Taking after the name of Booker T Washington, Carver would work the Tuskegee Institute for the rest of his life.

Carver changed the way farming is today. He taught farmers that they could feed hogs acorns and he invented the idea of crop rotation. Carver found out that years of growing cotton made fields have low yields, but growing things like peanuts, beans, and sweet potatoes, the soil could be restored. Because of this method, he became known for creating a surplus of peanuts and non-cotton products like yams. Farmers were able to make other foods from this, and even milk. He used peanut butter to make medicine and many other products. So in 1921, Washington became known as the peanut man. He then spent the rest of his life promoting peace and racial equality. Carver died on January 5, 1943.

Carver showed us that even without great education, you could still be intelligent. Many people struggle with poverty and are known to be a cycle. The way to break this cycle is education. Carver set the path for farming and many scientists to this day. Carver may be known as the peanut man, but his impact was greater than that

Photo by:  Frances Benjamin Johnston

About the author

Elijah Oliver