George Washington Carver
When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.
History remembers this man for his work with peanuts, but the backstory behind his breakthrough work is even more inspirational. How he came to be in position to help those less fortunate, the rural poor and in the process perhaps saved the economy of the south. His family divided by slavery – we don’t even know his actual birth date or exactly who his father was; indeed “Carver” is the family name of the slaveholders who owned him and his family.
He was kidnapped along with his mother and sister from the plantation where the family were slaves, but only he was found and returned. He was a sickly child and not very strong, as such the slaveholders kept him in the farmhouse and taught him to read, eventually sending him to school and later moving off the farm to go to high school.
Upon graduating from high school, and determined to engage a college education he applied for and was denied entrance to school owing to his race. He worked odd jobs – farmhand, railroad work – to save money for that education, eventually enrolling at the first black student at Simpson College in Iowa where he was encouraged to enroll at what is now Iowa State University to study botany. Six years after starting his collegiate journey, he earned his Bachelor’s degree, and two years later a Masters’ Degree.
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.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash106292.html
An inspirational story in and of itself, but there’s more.
He gave up his faculty position and its trappings, to go to work for the first African American college in the country, the Tuskegee Institute, to teach former slaves and where he developed work on crop rotation, rotating cotton and peanuts. When peanut inventories grew too high and prices dropped, he developed 300 different products for their use and demand soared.
An uncommon man, at the time of his death, he left his entire life savings to the Tuskegee Institute. He spent his life in dedication to others leveraging the education he had worked so hard to achieve.