Friday, February 25, 2011
People Who Inspire Me: George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was born a slave shortly before the end of the American Civil War. Since his mother was kidnapped a week after his birth, he and his brother were raised as sons by their slave owners after slavery ended in the United States. Intellectually brilliant, Carver grew up to become one of the best-known and respected scientists of his era.
Why does George Washington Carver inspire me?
1. He used his gifts to benefit the poor. He spent his life helping poor farmers in the South. After centuries of raising nothing but cotton on much of the land of the South, the soil was depleted of nutrients. Carver spent his career teaching poor Southern farmers to raise peanuts and sweet potatoes. He also spent his time developing products from peanuts so that a larger market for peanut products would make it easier for the farmers to sell their crops.
2. He gave the credit for his scientific achievements to the Lord. Carver placed his faith in Jesus Christ at 10 years of age. From that time forward, he lived to bring God glory. Throughout his years of teaching botany at the Tuskegee Institute, he taught a Sunday morning Bible class at the request of the students. Even though the New York Times criticized him for crediting God for his scientific breakthroughs, claiming that scientists should not speak in such a manner, he never backed away from acknowledging the Creator for his accomplishments.
3. He was kind in an unkind world. Carver was born a slave and lived the rest of his life under legalized racial segregation in the United States. As a young man, he witnessed a group of white men murder another young black man. However, his environment never extinguished his kindness. His faith in Christ and understanding of the Bible protected his heart from hatred and bitterness. He once explained his outlook on life in this way: "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these."
Our son Christopher is outside the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, in the top picture. We visited the national monument and museum last spring. Mr. Carver was born and raised on that land in the 1860s.