Just 17 1/2 miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri in a very small town of Diamond, population of less than 1,000, is the George Washington Carver National Monument and Museum. Carver, a black American, was born in 1864 there and died in Tuskegee, Alabama on January in 1943.
Six months later the United States Congress designated the George Washington National Monument, the first park to honor an African American scientist, educator and humanitarian AND HE WAS “FAMILY”.
In her 2015 biography, Christina Vella reviews his relationships and “suggests that Carver was bisexual and constrained by mores of this historical period.” Carver is said to have enjoyed a very intimate relationship with his male assistant Austin W. Curtis Jr, a Cornell University graduate in chemistry who taught at a North Carolina College. This companionship, as it was seen at the time, helped Carver to continue working in his later years.
Carver was best known as the inventor of peanut butter but he was also a botanist, chemist, and inventor whose work revived the last 19th and early 20th century agricultural economy of the American South. He was born the son of slaves. He never knew his parents as his father died before he was born and his mother and his siblings were kidnapped during the Civil War and he never saw them again.
At a very early age, he knew that education was the only way to go. Later in life, he said, “A man can make a lot of money however another man can steal your money away, but another man can never steal your education.”
After going from school to school, he was finally accepted at a college in Kansas only to be told upon his arrival that because he was black, that he was not welcomed. That did not deter him and he did attend a college in Iowa and got both his Bachelors and Masters degree in Agriculture. Booker T. Washington, President of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) hired him to head the Agriculture Department there. He stayed there for over 47 years until his death.
He invented over 300 uses for the peanut including peanut butter, peanut oil, peanut shampoo, salted peanuts, shredded peanuts, pecan flour, pomade, and peanut brittle, He taught methods of crop rotation, introduced several alternative cash crops for farmers that would improve the soil of areas heavily cultivated in cotton.
He was a highly sought after speaker all over the country and in England. He was given dozens of awards for his works. In 1921 he gave a captivating testimony before Congress on Agriculture. He inspired hundreds of both students as well as businessmen and farmers to understand what they could do.
Carver was also a gifted artist and some of his paintings and drawings are on display at the museum. He also enjoyed crocheting and a couple examples of those are also on display. Needless to say Carver had a very rough early life but he rose above it and became a truly great person.
TIME magazine called him the “Black Leonardo da Vinci” as he was such a Renaissance man. And this all started with him in the 1800’s! And people today complain about having problems! Carver MADE his life as he wanted to. Sure he had setbacks but that did not stop him. Guess the old adage, “Never, never, never, never give up” rings true.
Learn more about George Washington Carver by viewing this movie: https://www.nps.gov/gwca/learn/photosmultimedia/multimedia.htm
The website for his National Monument is https://www.nps.gov/gwca/index.htm
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).