Carver: more than ‘the peanut man’

Author: Kristy

Carver’s ag research helped black farmers become more self-sufficient

Born a slave on a Missouri farm in 1865, Carver became the first black student and the first black faculty member at what is now Iowa State University.

Science Blog | Feb. 26, 2014

Steeped in African tradition, the practice of storytelling in African-American culture provides a communal sense of pride and reflection, and ensures that history is preserved from generation to generation. African-American History Month honors the work and contributions of African-Americans, including educators, inventors, and scientists—all titles which George Washington Carver possessed. And like the continuity of storytelling, the legacy of Carver’s pioneering research left an undeniable impact

on the face of American agriculture.

Born a slave on a Missouri farm in 1865, Carver became the first black student and the first black faculty member at what is now Iowa State University.  The well-respected botanist led the bacterial laboratory work in the Systematic Botany Department. But at the urging of Booker T. Washington, Carver moved to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to serve as the school’s director of agriculture.   He used his agricultural research to help black farmers become more self-sufficient and less reliant on cotton, the major cash crop of the South.

When the boll weevil threatened to eliminate cotton in 1914, Carver developed numerous products and processes that expanded the range of Southern agriculture.  At Tuskegee, Carver developed his crop rotation method, which alternated nitrate-producing legumes such as peanuts and corn with cotton, which depletes the soil of its nutrients.  His innovations have been credited with the South’s economic survival in the early part of the 20th century. READ MORE

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