This year, during Black History Month, Hickman Mills C-1 Schools is celebrating the many accomplishments of African Americans who have shaped our nation and our community.
Born on a farm near Diamond, Missouri in 1864, George Washington Carver is best known as the agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products using peanuts. While he didn’t invent peanut butter as so often claimed, Mr. Carver did establish himself as a pioneer, creating American history.
As a child, Mr. Carver was known as “the plant doctor” in his community for his ability to determine how to improve soil and crop fields. His interest in plants led him to research and experiment with natural pesticides. At age 11, Mr. Carver first moved away on his own to attend school. Over the next ten years, he moved from one town to the next, putting himself through school. He graduated from Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas in 1880.
Mr. Carver became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State Agricultural School, now Iowa State University, in 1894. After impressing his professors with his research on fungal infections, he stayed on for graduate studies where he earned his Master of Agriculture degree in 1896. He immediately received job offers, including one to teach at what is now Tuskegee University.
While at Tuskegee, Mr. Carver established an agricultural school where he worked the remainder of his life. His ideas regarding crop rotation were revolutionary for the farming industry. He discovered growing nitrogen-fixing plants such as peanuts, soybeans, etc. could help restore the soil where cotton, corn, and other damaging produce yielded low results. The increase in the surplus of peanuts led to Mr. Carver’s development of more than 300 food and products from peanuts.
After Mr. Carver’s death in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation for him to receive his own monument, an honor that had only been granted to presidents at that time. The George Washington Carver National Monument now stands in Diamond, Missouri.