“Of all his accomplishments, it may be that his greatest gift to black people and to the world was the gift of hope. He proved that a black man—or any man—could start with nothing and achieve great things.” – George Washington Carver; John Perry; Thomas-Nelson.
The first time George Washington Carver caught my attention was when I read Andy Andrew’s coffee table book, “The Butterfly Effect.” That kindled my curiosity. That, and a new appreciation for Martin Luther King Jr. John Perry writes the total history of George Washington Carver in one of his series of books called, Christian Encounters.
George Washington Carver was a kind soul, well-liked by both black and white people, and a survivor. His roots are famous. He was the son of a slave woman, owned by Moses Carver. Moses was against owning a slave, but saw slavery as an “economic necessity.” George Washington Carver was half-white. One night in a raid by robbers, George and his mom were kidnapped. His mom was never seen again, but Moses Carver went after them and managed to save George from death by trading George’s life for a racing horse. George’s mother was never returned or found.
Throughout George’s remarkable life as the adopted son of the Carvers, he managed to defy odds. George was a frail boy, later man who loved agriculture, experiments, and had an unusual personality and mind. Moses Carver and his wife, “didn’t go to church, but George was so interested in Christianity that he walked the mile by himself every Sunday morning.” George was an avid learner and his hunger for knowledge couldn’t be satiated. Due to his color, George could not attend a regular school. Susan Carver taught him at home and the rest he learned in Sunday School at church. Later, he would attend a public school. His love for God grew enormously through varying trials and difficulties.
What amazed me was his eccentricities. Even as he excelled through schools and later universities, he relied heavily upon affirmations. He disliked gifts, especially financial gifts, but when someone gave him a medal he cherished that, and if he didn’t get enough attention, he complained a lot. Yet in spite of his complaints and polarized emotions, he was known as a kind soul. Even when people segregated him he chose not to sue. George Washington Carver took the job in the poorest college after being a top-notch University professor in a mostly white college because he wanted to help his people excel.
Carver was also frugal (to say the least). He believed that, “we have become 99 percent money mad. The method of living at home modestly and within our income, laying a little by systematically for the proverbial rainy day which is sure to come, can almost be listed among the lost arts.”
He believed that, “As soon as you begin to read the great and loving God out of all forms of existence he has created, both animate and inanimate, then you will be able to converse with him, anywhere, everywhere, and at all times. Oh, what a fullness of joy will come to you. My dear friend, get the significance. God is speaking.”
George Washington Carver is both an inspiring and amazing human being who won the hearts of both races, getting past the prejudice using kindness, humility, and not violence or riots. There are lessons we could all learn in Carver’s life. He knew how to save money. His Bible studies were packed every week. The people who couldn’t get in stood outside the classroom to hear him give the study. Carver never used the Bible, but he had memorized it. This book was wonderfully insightful, though I didn’t sense any passion. The character of Carver came through while the writing itself didn’t excite me as much as I had been when I read James M. McPherson’s “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.”
All in all I would recommend this book to any teenager especially or adult eager to learn the personality and life of George Washington Carver and his friend, Booker T. Washington. Talk about your polar opposites! I rated this book four stars.