George Washington Carver

Farmer, scientist, inventor, and teacher
c. Jan. 1864-Jan. 5, 1943

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re putting the spotlight on George Washington Carver, who devoted his professional career to helping rural Black farmers gain independence and self-sufficiency through soil and plant science.

Carver was an agricultural chemist and inventor, who with a master's degree from Iowa State University headed the new department of agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

He roamed the countryside in a horse-drawn wagon lab of his own invention to teach farmers about soil science and crop rotation. To improve the soils that had been depleted by cotton, he encouraged farmers to plant nitrogen fixers, and provided economic opportunity from those crops by developing hundreds of products from peanuts and sweet potatoes.

When Carver died on January 5, 1943, he was regarded as the most famous Black scientist in America. The page on George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University is an excellent resource on this extraordinary individual.

Carver’s legacy continues all over the country.

Learn more:

•  The Progressive Farmer has an inspiring story of a first-generation, 22-year-old Black poultry farmer opening his operation in Nebraska.

•  An interview in Food & Wine Magazine showcases one farmer’s mission to build equitable food systems for Black and brown people.

•  At Non-Profit Quarterly, there’s a thoughtful examination of U.S. Agriculture policy changes that could benefit Black Farmers.