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Tuskegee University’s 19th annual George Washington Carver Convocation on Friday, Jan. 26 will honor the innovative and creative spirit of one of the nation’s most prolific agricultural researchers.
The George Washington Carver Convocation strives to reinforce the university's commitment to inquiry, faith and knowledge, truth and service, scientific competence and ethical maturity. As a result of his nearly 50-year career at then-Tuskegee Institute, Carver is credited with conducting groundbreaking plant biology research and developing new uses for crops, including peanuts, sweet potatoes, soybeans and pecans.
Friday’s convocation is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the University Chapel. In addition to remarks by Interim President Charlotte P. Morris and performances by the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir, Dr. Goldie S. Byrd of North Carolina A&T University will deliver the convocation address. A professor of biology, Byrd is the founding director of the university’s Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health. As a cross-disciplinary researcher, her extensive work focused on Alzheimer’s disease has been recognized both nationally and internationally by the Alzheimer’s Association and by the National Black College Hall of Fame.
Born into slavery in Missouri in the mid-1860s, George Washington Carver began his career at Tuskegee Institute in 1896 at the invitation of Tuskegee’s founder and first president, Booker T. Washington. At Tuskegee, as head of the institute’s agricultural department, Carver went on to become a world-renowned botanist and educator, and one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time.
Through his research, Carver devised hundreds of products from peanuts and sweet potatoes that included food items, medicinal products, plastics, household cleaners, and paints and dyes. His expanded uses for peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes provided struggling sharecroppers in the South plagued by declining cotton production with new crop alternatives. By offering these alternative crops, Carver contributed to rural economic improvement benefiting farmers and their land.
Following his death in 1943, he was buried next to Washington on the Tuskegee grounds. Carver’s epitaph reads: “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.” Known for his frugal nature, Carver used his savings to establish the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee, which continues to support agricultural research at the university. Currently, the George Washington Carver Museum, located on the university’s grounds, is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. It highlights Carver’s research accomplishments, as well as features his geological and mycological specimens, traveling “show-and-tell” displays, artwork and crafts.
© 2018, Tuskegee University