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George Washington Carver remembered at second annual celebration

At+the+George+Washington+Carver+Day+of+Recognition+Program%2C+Paxton+Williams+performs+his+keynote+address%2C+A+visit+with+Professor+George+Washington+Carver%2C+at+the+MU+on+Feb.+1%2C+2024.
Elizabeth Lane
At the George Washington Carver Day of Recognition Program, Paxton Williams performs his keynote address, “A visit with Professor George Washington Carver,” at the MU on Feb. 1, 2024.

Iowa State celebrated the life of George Washington Carver Thursday with the George Washington Carver Day of Recognition Program. The event was the second annual celebration of George Washington Carver Day, and it detailed the history and speakers who brought the legacy of Carver to life.

At the event, Dan Robison, endowed dean’s chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, gave the welcoming and closing remarks.

“[Carver was] an amazing person who did so much a long time ago and who continues to inspire us today,” Robison said. “He is among a few of the true guiding spirits of Iowa.”

George Washington Carver was born in Missouri in 1864. Carver received higher education at Simpson College and Iowa State despite being born into slavery. Eventually, Carver graduated from Iowa State with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and a master’s degree in science as the first Black student to attend. In due course, he would become the first Black faculty member at Iowa State.

Later in life, Carver moved to the ​​Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to continue sharing his knowledge with other parts of the world. At the institute, he would teach his students the importance of making the most out of a bad situation.

Former Assistant Iowa Attorney General and non-profit executive Paxton Williams performed his one-man show entitled “A Visit with Professor George Washington Carver,” which has toured in 24 states as well as the United Kingdom. The only prop or set featured in Williams’ presentation was a desk and a few vegetables. Yet, Williams conveyed the spirit of Carver with conviction.

“Everything looked hungry, the land, the cotton, the ground and the people,” Williams said (as Carver). “But from that junk, we had made ourselves the instruments of our education.”

“Always remember to lift as you climb,” Williams said while acting as Carver. “Use your freedom.”

Carver’s legacy can be seen around Iowa State’s campus in Carver Hall and the memorial image on the side of the Memorial Union.

“It has been said of Carver that he wanted to turn the ugly into the beautiful and the wasteful into the useful so that even ‘The poorest of God’s creatures’ would be healthier, their homes more comfortable, their surroundings more beautiful and their lives more significant,” stated the Iowa State George Washington Carver Day website.

To close, the event offered ice cream from the Iowa State Creamery, including Legacy, a special flavor designed to honor George Washington Carver and Mildred Day.

To learn more about the history of Carver, look to the website of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

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