Carver Day, celebrated on January 5 every year, is one of the rare national days that commemorate an African American figure. It started in 1947 in honor of George Washington Carver, a noteworthy agricultural scientist, and inventor. It not only celebrates this remarkable innovator who was part of a marginalized community. It also honors his invention, which ended up helping farmers around the country, and produced enough food to feed and keep the United States sustained during the Second World War.
History of Carver Day
Carver devised methods to improve soils depleted by repeated cotton plantings. He urged farmers and other agricultural experts to restore nitrogen to their grounds through systematic crop rotation, such as alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans, and cowpeas). These crops both restored nitrogen to the soil and were safe to eat.
Following the crop, rotation practice resulted in higher cotton yields and provided farmers with additional cash crops. Carver created an agricultural extension program for Alabama similar to his alma mater, Iowa State, to train farmers to rotate and cultivate the new crops. To promote better nutrition in the South, he widely disseminated recipes that used alternative crops.
Carver received the Roosevelt Medal in 1939 for saving Southern agriculture, which later played a role in feeding the United States during the Second World War. It was also why Carver’s hometown was declared a historic site after his death on January 5, 1943. These innovative new farming methods were groundbreaking. They had such a lasting impact on the world of agriculture that Theodore Roosevelt later named January 5 Carver Day in honor of the man himself.
The beginning of Carver Day has become a day to celebrate the incredible agricultural inventions of Carver. It has also become an important day as it is one of the few national days that honor an African American figure — and a scientist at that.
Carver Day timeline
Carver is born into slavery in Diamond, Missouri, to parents, Mary and Giles Carver.
Carver enrolls in the Iowa Agricultural College to study botany as the first African American.
Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute invites Carver to head its agriculture department.
Carver delivers testimony before Congress to support a tariff on imported peanuts.
Carver is awarded the Roosevelt Medal for saving Southern American agriculture.
Carver Day FAQs
Was George Washington Carver kidnapped?
Yes, he was. Aside from the fact that Carver was born into slavery, during the American Civil War, the Carver farm was raided, and infant Carver and his mother were kidnapped and taken to Arkansas to be sold.
How did George Washington Carver get out of slavery?
Carver was freed after the end of the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery. He was a sickly little boy at the time but was taken in, along with his brother, by his mother’s former master to receive a proper education and grow up as a well-adjusted young man.
What are the different uses for peanuts?
From his work at Tuskegee, Carver developed approximately 300 products made from peanuts; these included: flour, paste, insulation, paper, wallboard, wood stains, soap, shaving cream, and skin lotion. He also experimented with medicines made from peanuts, including antiseptics, laxatives, and treatment for goiter.
Carver Day Activities
Visit the Carver National Monument
It is in Carver’s birthplace, Diamond, Missouri. In honor of the national day celebrating this agricultural icon, pay a visit to his monument and hang around to enjoy the town’s charms. It is the first site in the national park system dedicated to an African American, the perfect historical spot to share with your family.
Attend one of many Carver Day Celebration events
Each year, various events celebrate Carver Day. One such is the official Carver Day Celebration event in Diamond, Missouri. Typically, there is a roster of impressive guest speakers, including famous African American authors and academic figures, and other educational demonstrations.
Stay home and educate yourself
If you can’t make it to his monument, there are various online resources for you to enjoy to celebrate the life of this impressive historical figure. You can read one of the many biographies, watch the “The Who Was? Show” episode about Carver with your kids, or try and find the original documentary released in 1940.
5 Inspirational George Washington Carver Quotes
“Education is the key to unlocking the golden door of freedom.”
“There is no shortcut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation…”
“Do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you’ll command the attention of the world.”
“Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will destroy the hater.”
“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.”
Why We Love Carver Day
It conserves and celebrates black history
In a world where black history is not usually at the forefront, events like Carver Day serve to keep the memory of iconic black historical figures alive. Black History Month takes place in February every year, and this day is an excellent pre-celebration of that as a new year kicks off in January.
It inspires young minds seeking knowledge
Each year, many young minds are influenced by the innovation that Carver showed at a time when faced with great adversity. This encourages those searching for direction academically to study agriculture, a field that is as important as ever.
It encourages people to embrace agriculture
In recent years, people have started farming at home in their gardens. Growing produce like potatoes, herbs, tomatoes, and carrots in your backyard has become the norm, which agricultural celebrations like Carver Day are responsible for.
Carver Day dates