George Washington Carver: agricultural scientist and inventor

Iptisam – Year 12 Student

Editor’s note: This short essay was recently entered into the GSAL Black History Essay Writing Competition, organized by The GSAL Journal and UPSoc to coincide with Black History Month. Open to all students in Year 10-13, the purpose of the competition was to encourage students to undertake independent research, think critically and communicate clearly about an aspect of black history of interest to them. The Competition Poster provides more information about the competition brief and success criteria. CPD

George Washington Carver was an Agricultural Scientist and Inventor who developed techniques to improve soils depleted by the repeated planting of cotton. He became the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.

George Carver was born into slavery. After slavery was abolished, George and his older brother were brought up by their master and his wife. Although slavery was now illegal, black children were banned from attending their local school. Instead, George attended a school for black children ten miles away from his home. After finishing school, George decided to pursue his education and applied to many universities. Although he was accepted to Highland University in Kansas, George was denied an education upon his arrival because of his race. A few years later, he obtained a bank loan of 300 dollars for his education and became the first black student at Iowa State Agricultural College. He began to do research at the Iowa Experiment Station, which gained him national recognition as a botanist.

George taught as the first black faculty member at Iowa State. In 1886, George became the head of the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute and developed it into a strong research centre. He taught methods of crop rotation, developing methods which would improve the quality of soil depleted by cotton planting. This involved developing a mobile classroom which he took out to farmers. This resulted in improved cotton yields for many farmers across the country. He also introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would improve soil quality as well as the quality of life of poor farmers. This is because the cash crops provided new sources of food for the farmers. Finally, he taught generations of black students farming techniques for self-sufficiency.

George Washinton received much recognition for his work, including the Spingarn medal. He was also made a member of the Royal Society of Arts, an organisation committed to finding practical challenges to social solutions.

In conclusion, George Washington Carver was someone who helped to revolutionise the agricultural industry with his innovative research. He also helped to change stereotypes in a post-slavery society, for example by becoming the first black student at his university. This probably meant that he was seen as a role model for many ambitious black children in the 20th century. After becoming famous, George also used his celebrity status to promote racial harmony, which helped black people become more accepted across the United States. Iptisam

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