George Washington Carver Created Over 300 Products from Peanuts
When I was a child I wrote my first research report on George Washington Carver. This famous American inventor and agricultural scientist revolutionized the lowly peanut.
Carver was born into slavery. As a child he was stolen and traded back for a race horse. After slavery was abolished he took great strides to educate himself. His passion to learn eventually led to him becoming the first Black student at Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University). Carver's Bachelor's thesis in Agriculture was titled "Plants as Modified by Man", submitted in 1894. He eventually received his MS from the same university in 1896.
Carver became the first Black faculty member at Iowa State as the head of its agricultural department. He was later named director of Agricultural Experiment Station authorized for Tuskegee by Alabama Legislature. He was a well known and accomplished botanist, scientist and environmentalist.
He taught crop rotation, introduced alternative cash crops for farmers that would also improve the soil and increase nitrogen in cotton fields, researched crop products (chemurgy), and taught generations of Black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.
Carver even designed a mobile classroom to take education out to busy farmers.
Carver's fame extended beyond agriculture. Click here to see a short silent film featuring George Washington Carver.
The 1937 film was shot by Dr. C. Allen Alexander, who was a Black American surgeon from Kalamazoo, Michigan. For more on the film see Now Showing: George Washington Carver on Kodachrome
Cesar Chavez's bust is in president Biden's office.
Cesar Chavez was a civil rights and farm labor leader who was a champion of nonviolent social change. He advocated for worker, environment, and consumer rights. The Latino American hero co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta.
He was a first generation American born in Yuma, Arizona in 1927. His family become migrant workers when they lost their farm in the Great Depression of the 1930's. Chavez become involved in community social causes in the 1950's when he founded the NFWA with $1200 of his life's saving. There were 10 founding members, Cesar, his wife and their eight young children. It later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to create the United Farm Workers labor union. Under Cesar's direction, the UFW achieved unheard of gains for farm workers rights. These accomplishments established it as the first successful American farm workers union.
Chavez's movement addressed farm worker poverty in a holistic manner. His programs included the first farm worker credit union, health clinics, daycare centers, educational Spanish radio stations, job-training programs and a burial program. He initiated affordable retirement housing for elderly Filipino American farm workers and built multi-family and homeownership for farm worker, low income and senior communities.
Cesar’s motto was “Si se puede!” Translated "Yes, it can be done!”
For more on Cesar Chavez visit his foundation page: Cesar Chavez Foundation