Day 9 - Get an Education
After the civil war had ended a very sickly young black
child named George Washington Carver was living in Missouri. He was too
weak to work in the fields so he helped in the kitchen of the home he
lived at and learned to bake, cook, sew and iron clothes. He didn't have
friends and found peace by tending to a hidden garden he kept in the woods.
He was extremely observant and learned much about plants. People started
bringing their "sick" houseplants to him and he was able to make them
healthy again. They started calling him "the plant doctor". It made him
feel important. He wanted to go to school to learn more but there were
few opportunities at that time for black children to get an education.
During that time most white people did not have an education beyond the
fifth grade. George finally left his home in search of an education and
did anything and everything to earn money to live and to buy books so
he could go to school. He faced ridicule, racism and hatred but he persevered.
He was past age 30 when he finally graduated from high school. He was
in his forties when he graduated from college. He became a teacher at
Tuskegee institute and a world-renowned scientist. Before he changed it,
cotton was the main crop raised in the south. But raising cotton every
year had depleted the soil. Abundant crops of peanuts and sweet potatoes
could be raised in the soil of the south but there was no market for these
at that time. He changed that. He learned how to divide peanuts into the
different compounds that make them up and then make different products
out of them. He literally invented hundreds of products from both peanuts
and sweet potatoes. To prove the worth of the peanut as a viable crop
he once appeared before a committee of U.S. Congressmen to seek funding
for research. One congressman made an unkind comment about him because
of his skin color but Dr. Carver ignored it and went on with his presentation.
He served them a meal consisting of soup, salad, mock chicken, and an
ice cream dessert. After they finished their meal he announced that the
entire meal was made of nothing but peanuts. They were astonished. They
also approved the funding. Dr. Carver helped change the south because
he changed agriculture, which was the main industry. Education and perseverance
was the key to doing it.
Each of you has the opportunity to go on to college or a
trade school. Some of you may come from families that are limited on financial
resources or perhaps you are an individual who has had everything handed
to you and you are not willing to work and sacrifice to achieve something.
All of you can become highly educated if your will is strong enough. None
of you will face what George Washington Carver faced in his quest for
an education and he was able to overcome every barrier. Do yourselves
a favor and get as much education as you can. Just don't ever get so educated
that you look down on people who are not. Education without humility creates
a snob. As we end our final night together I wish you all a peaceful night
and a meaningful life. Never give up, remember the words to live by, do
the right thing, live what you believe, remember how to treat people,
finish the task, remember principle & honor in your life, be a blessing
to others and get an education. Goodnight gentlemen!
by David L. Eby