George Washington Carver (January 1864 – January 5, 1943) was a scientist, botanist, educator and inventor who worked on the African concept of extension at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee (Alabama). The exact day and year of birth is unknown, is believed to be born in January 1864, before slavery was abolished in Missouri. He taught former slaves farming techniques that were necessary to self-sufficient.
Much of Carver’s fame is based on his research and promotion of alternative crops to cotton and peanuts and sweet potatoes. He wanted poor farmers to cultivate alternative source of their own food and other products to improve their quality of life. The most popular of the 44 practical bulletins for farmers contains 105 recipes that use peanuts. He also created and spread about 100 peanut products that were useful for the home and farm, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline and nitroglycerin.
In the reconstruction of the south, agricultural monoculture of cotton had depleted the soil, and early twentieth century, the boll weevil destroyed much of the cotton crop. George Washington Carver’s work in peanuts intended to provide an alternative crop.
Besides his work in agricultural extension education for promotion of sustainable agriculture and recognition of plants and nature, are also among the major achievements of George Washington Carver improving race relations, mentoring children, poetry, painting, and religion. He served as an example of the importance of hard work, to have a positive attitude and a good education. His humility, humanitarianism, good nature, frugality, and his rejection of economic materialism have also been widely admired.
One of his most important roles was in undermining, through the fame of his achievements and talents, the widespread stereotype of the time when blacks were intellectually inferior to whites. In 1941, Time magazine called it a “black Leonardo”, referring to the multifaceted Italian Leonardo da Vinci. To commemorate his life and inventions, the George Washington Carver Recognition Day is celebrated on January 5, the anniversary of the death of George Washington Carver.