The Good Earth George Washington Carver built a rich life from science and the
land. By Julia M. Klein
Born into slavery in Missouri during the Civil War’s closing months, George
Washington Carver (1864-1943) was kidnapped, orphaned and nearly killed by
whooping cough – all before the age of 1.
Not an auspicious beginning for a figure who would eventually be dubbed the
“Peanut Man” and the “People’s Scientist.” The boy who overcame adversity
became a man who could do just about anything with a plant. Sidestepping the
era’s virulent racism, Carver developed hundreds of applications for the
peanut, sweet potato, pecan and soybean; pioneered organic farming and bio-fuel
manufacture, and embraced science as a tool “to fill the poor man’s empty
Carver’s achievements have had special resonance for African Americans. But, as
recounted in an exhibition at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences
(through Feb. 28), they are more broadly inspirational. A handsome man with an
unusual high-pitched voice, Carver straddled poverty and privilege, Jim Crow
racism and elite white approval, art and science, agriculture and industry. The
show “George Washington Carver,” developed by Chicago’s Field Museum with
Tuskegee University and the National Park Service, uses artifacts, text,
videos, and interactive exhibits to construct a narrative that is compact,
clear and surprisingly moving. Continue
provides comprehensive coverage on how the loss of a person, a place, an object
or an idea presents an opportunity for examination and discussion. Obit is not
solely about death. It asks the question, "What defines an important
life?". It is a forum for ideas and opinions about life, death, and
transition written by some of the most respected journalists in the American
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