George Washington Carver

by Leah Smith from Alaska

Imagine growing up in a time of segregation, where one wasn't allowed to sit or eat with another race. You think that would be hard enough right? Well try being an orphan too! George Washington Carver was an extremely dark skinned black man who was treated badly because of segregation and his orphan status. Other boys teased and mocked him. After all this, he still wanted to help his country by making new discoveries that changed lives forever, making him one of the greatest heroes of all time.

George Washington Carver demonstrated heroism when he overcame hardships like being an African American who was orphaned during the times of slavery and segregation. G. W. Carver's parents worked as slaves for the Carvers, a white family that owned them. His father was shot dead by an angry white man. His mother, stolen and sold on a slave market, then died of sickness caused by her life in unsanitary conditions. When Carver struggled to be happy and cheerful at tragic times like this, he would go outside to pray to God. Another hardship he faced and overcame was his fight to attend to school when he turned ten. The closest school for black children was eight miles away. A kind woman named Mrs. Watkins exchanged food and accommodations close to the school for his hard work. He worked for Mrs. Watkins for three years. During this time, he became closer to God. This helped him in his later days when he struggled with the pain of slavery and poverty.

At the age of thirteen, Carver set off for Fort Scott High School. His problem was staying caught up in school because he had to drop out every other month to pay for his own education. He slowly overcame this obstacle by working in homes, washing, cooking, field work and gardening. Though his hardest blow was when he applied to Highland University and was accepted. He dropped all of his jobs, rushed to the school, but when they saw that he was black, the head of the school told him to leave because they didn't except "Blacks." George Washington Carver was so discouraged that he decided to just work in homes and never go to college. Though this was a major hardship, he overcame it with courage from God. With this new courage, Carver went back to school. George Washington Carver went from slavery to becoming a respected man who devoted his life to agricultural science, chemistry, and the wellbeing of others.

George Washington Carver showed heroism when he accomplished many achievements. George, after gaining courage, decided to write an essay and matriculated to Simpson College, hoping and praying he would not be shut out. Carver was accepted, even though he would be the first and only black student. He amazed his teacher when he studied science and arts. George states, "At Simpson, the kind of people there made me feel that I was a human being!" When George finished there, he applied for Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames. He graduated from there with his masters in agricultural science in 1896. He was the first black student to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. Right after he graduated, Thomas Edison offered Carver a job of $50,000 a year. Back then, that was a lot of money. At Iowa State University, they recommended G.W. Carver to be director of the Department of Agricultural Research. Carver accepted. After being there for four years, they changed the name to Tuskegee University. While there, Carver worked his hardest and discovered, out of the humble peanut, more than three hundred materials. From sweet potato, he discovered shoe polish, soap, wood stain, dyes of all kinds, and more than a hundred other things. G.W. Carver also discovered around 100 products form a soybean plant! Through all this, G.W. Carver displayed heroism with his achievements and discoveries that helped farmers make money because their cotton plants were failing.

G.W. Carver is a true hero because he experienced tragedy, slavery, and still made new discoveries that helped farmers and changed lives around the world. He discovered all sorts of products made with peanut, soybean, and sweet potato. With ingenuity, he helped farmers with their failing crops. He died on January 5, 1943 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Apparently, he had fallen down the stairs on the way home. This supposedly caused a puncture in his back, which caused not enough air to get into his red blood cells, causing Anemia. It is believed this is the cause of his death at the age of 78. Carver's life savings totaled $60,000, all of which he donated to the George Washington Carver Foundation. George Washington Carver was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University. His Epitaph says," He could have added fame to fortune, but caring for neither he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world! " This is why George Washington Carver is a true hero.

Related Links

George Washington Carver - National Park Service
George Washington Carver - The State Historical Society of Missouri: Historic Missourians