Give Your Learning Back to The People

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You Create Your Reality 

Imagine being born and no one kept a record of it. You have no birth certificate and no parents to tell you the story of your birth. Add to this that you had been kidnapped at the age of one with your sister and mother. All of this happened at the beginning of life for George Washington Carver.  
After having these experiences, you'd probably think that no one could overcome a life that started so unbelievably horrific. However, you would be underestimating one of the most fascinating people in our American History.
George Washington Carver was born into slavery around 1861 - 1863, but as I stated above, no one has any record of his birth. He and his family were owned by Moses Carver, a farmer in Diamond Grove, Missouri.
After the kidnapping, Moses hired a man to track down and find George and his sister and mother.
Only George was recovered and returned to Moses Carver. At this time, the Civil War had ended, and slavery was abolished. Moses and his wife Susan decided to raise George and his older brother, James, as their own children.

Education is the Key  

Life had changed dramatically for George. He was encouraged by the Carver's to go out and gain an education. Susan taught George the basics of reading and writing, which George learned quickly.
At the time, Diamond Grove did not allow black students in their 
Pixabay with my enhancement of George Washington carver
schools.  As a result, George had to adjust. He decided to attend a school for black children about 10 miles away in Neosho. Through the kindness of fate, he met and boarded with a woman named Mariah Watkins. When George introduced himself, it was as "Carver's George". Mariah said you will now call yourself George Carver. She also told him, "You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people". This quote and the energy carried through it lived with him for his entire life.

He was the Da Vinci of His Time 

George was a quick learner and developed a keen intellect for art, music, and agriculture. He would graduate from the University of Iowa with both his bachelor's and master's degrees. He would also be the first black teacher at Iowa State and earn his Doctorate there, although this would be awarded posthumously in 1994.

Here are some of the 300 Inventions Carver created

Only a few of the 300 inventions George Washington Carver created

What Did George Do? 

At this point, you're probably asking what Carver did with his knowledge. Did he share it with the people? Did he go on to be a millionaire? Keep reading, and you'll find out the answers to your questions.
Booker T. Washington, yes the first principal and president of the Tuskegee Institute, was a big fan of George Carver and invited him to run and teach its Agriculture Department. George excepted and started a lifelong career at Tuskegee that lasted for over 45 years.
Carver was very interested in helping poor farmers understand better soil retention techniques by planting sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans, and cowpeas) as well as their staple cotton crops. These concepts would accomplish two things. First, the farmers could eat the food they had grown, and second, they could incorporate his rotation plan to keep their soil more fertile for future planting.

People Started to Take Note

In this paragraph I'm going to cover the results of Carver's teaching and how it had many advantages for the farmers, and how they started to see larger crop yields as well as more "cash" crop sales. All of this got the attention of the farmers in the surrounding states and would be the genesis of his agricultural extension program. He even created and distributed recipes to help the farmers incorporate their crops into a healthy diet.  
Carver knew that to support this new diverse crop market, he needed to show other farmers and businesses how they could use these new and different plants. To accomplish this, he founded an industrial research laboratory to conduct experiments and create new products. He would also use a simple technique to get the message out. It was called the agricultural bulletin, and people loved it. It got such recognition that even the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was a fan of George and his work. As his reputation grew, so did his fan base. In 1916, Carver was made a member of the Royal Society of Arts in England, one of only a handful of Americans at that time to receive this honor.

A Passion to Help Others

Meanwhile, the attention was all well and good, but Carver was driven to help others, and so he continued his work in R&D, and in 1920 he was asked to speak at The United Peanut Associations of America. At that event, he discussed "The Possibilities of the Peanut" and exhibited 145 peanut products for all to see. Based on his knowledge and expertise he was asked to be an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers. This was an unprecedented move for the time. Again, Carver had done what most would deem unthinkable.  
Many writers and scholars alike, claim that Carver and his peanut products were almost solely responsible for the rise in U.S. peanut production after the boll weevil devastated the American cotton crop beginning about 1892. His methods and techniques saved Southern farmers from over-farming and single crop devastations over the next fifty years. The rise of peanut oil production and sales is also directly linked to Carver and his industrial research center.  

Built Ford Tough

Among his many admirers, one was especially significant.  Henry Ford often collaborated with George on soybean-related technologies. Ford even created indestructible car panels that were derived from Soybeans for their cars. There is footage of Henry Ford taking a sledgehammer to a trunk of a car and hitting it and leaving no damage at all.    
As their friendship developed, Ford invited George to speak at a conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, with other top thinkers of the day. On the face of it, this might not seem to be extraordinary but remember this was back in the late 30s, and black men were rarely if ever, invited to give their opinions on policy. George held the honor of co-hosting this conference with the wealthiest and most influential man at the time.  
At the end of his life, he donated all his savings to the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee to continue agricultural research. The donation is the equivalent of a million dollars in today's money.
In conclusion, George did live up to Mariah Watkins' inspirational message, "You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people".  He backed his ethos up with an endowment
that would make sure his knowledge would be available to others for generations to come.
I am grateful for his kindness and generosity.


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