Several years ago, my young teenaged daughter had a couple of neighborhood friends over. We were baking cookies together, and for some reason my daughter mentioned something about George Washington Carver. To our utter astonishment, one of the girls, who happened to be black, asked, “Who is he?”
George Washington Carver was an important person in our history, and especially important in black history. Born a slave and orphaned very young, he and his brother were raised as sons by their owners. George had an insatiable appetite for learning, and was especially interested in anything to do with plants. When he had learned everything his mother could teach him, he left home to travel to another town where there was a school for black students. He quickly exhausted the supply of knowledge at that school and went on to enroll in several more schools, doing laundry and housekeeping to earn his way, before he being accepted at Highland College in Kansas City. Devastatingly, he arrived at the college only to be told that, no matter what his grades had been, he could not be admitted because he was black.
Thankfully, there were colleges that were willing to accept George, even if they did not afford him the same rights as the white students were given. He won his way into the hearts of those around him, however, and earned their respect with his accomplishments.
George intended to go on to earn his doctorate, but he was offered a position as part of the faculty at Tuskegee Institute, a school founded by Booker T. Washington (another black hero worth studying) to give even the poorest blacks a chance at a quality education. Having faced an overcome discrimination many times himself, George jumped at the chance to help other blacks succeed. He ended up remaining at Tuskegee Institute for the rest of his life, dedicating himself to his students and his laboratory.
George Washington Carver is perhaps most known for the fact that he discovered hundreds of uses for the lowly peanut! He also discovered numerous uses for the sweet potato and other commonly crops commonly grown in the south. However, his contribution toward ending discrimination against blacks is not to be ignored. He did not participate in protests or show any manner of violence. Rather, he won people over with his quiet ways and amazed them with the knowledge and understanding he displayed through his many inventions. Those who did not believe that black people were capable of reaching the same intellect as white people could not argue with the genius of this little man.
John Perry (author of Letters to God) has written a very good biography of George Washington Carver. One of the Christian Encounter series, this book is one that could easily be read by a middle schooler, but is still enjoyable for an adult. Perry does not leave out the importance of George’s faith in the Creator, as that was the basis for George’s entire life and work and a frequent part of his teaching. As a homeschooler, I am frequently looking for good books for my children to read, and this one certainly fits the bill. Perry has also written several other biographies, and I am looking forward to reading them, as well!
Disclosure: I was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers with a free Kindle copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review. This post also contains affiliate links.