Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another American Hero

"Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater."

The man who spoke these words had every reason to fear and hate, but he chose to live his gentle life another way. Born into slavery in 1864 in Missouri, he, his mother, and his brother James were stolen by night raiders. The two boys were returned (for payment) to Moses and Susan Carver, their childless white owners, who raised them as their own. Taught the rudiments of reading and writing by "Aunt" Susan, George later began a long, grueling odyssey to obtain the education he desired. Besides having a brilliant mind, he also possessed a genius for painting.

In 1896, Booker T. Washington invited him to the new Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama to head the "agriculture department"--which existed in name and on paper only. Carver took his students to the trash dump to reclaim items which he turned into lab equipment. He traveled among the impoverished farm families in the vicinity, teaching them how to plant gardens for nutrition and others for beauty. When long years of cotton production left the soil useless for producing more, he showed farmers how to plant peanuts to return depleted nitrogen to the earth.. When bumper crops of peanuts rotted in barns, he went into his laboratory and developed hundreds of uses for the simple plant.

In life, and after his death, he received many honors and was a close friend and consultant with automaker Henry Ford. In 1937, Ford had an elevator installed at Tuskeegee to accommodate his friend's declining health and strength. Before he died in 1945, he donated his life savings to establish a foundation for continued agricultural research. 

A committed Christian who credited God with all the knowledge and information he discovered to impart, Carver also gave his students eight cardinal rules to strive toward keeping:
  • Be clean both inside and out.
  • Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
  • Lose, if need be, without squealing.
  • Win without bragging.
  • Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
  • Be too brave to lie.
  • Be too generous to cheat.
  • Take your share of the world and let others take theirs
George Washington Carver is buried beside Booker T. Washington on the grounds of Tuskeegee University.
His epitaph reads: He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world. 

For more of his wise counsel, follow this link.

Scroll to the bottom of this Wikipedia bio for a reading list on his inspiring life.


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