George Washington Carver Day Date in the current year: January 5, 2024

George Washington Carver Day George Washington Carver Day is a rarely acknowledged national day that recognizes a renowned African-American agricultural scientist and inventor. It was inaugurated by President Harry S. Truman in 1945.

George Washington Carver was born in Missouri circa 1864. The exact date of his birth is unknown because he was born into slavery. George’s parents were owned by German-American settler Moses Carver who needed slaves to work on his farm. George’s father Giles died before his son was born, and his mother, along with George and his sister, was abducted by raiders. The infant George was found and brought back, but his mother and sister were not.

Following the abolition of slavery in Missouri in 1865, Moses and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own sons. They encouraged George to pursue education, and he ended up graduating from Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas and studying botany at Iowa State Agricultural College. Carver was the first black student at Iowa State; he received a bachelor’s degree in 1894 and a master’s degree in 1896.

Upon his graduation, Carver was invited to head the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama. He taught there for 47 years and developed the department into a serious research center. As a researcher, Carver worked on developing crop rotation techniques to improve soils depleted by cotton planting and promoting applications for new crops to popularize them.

Carver’s work was known and admired by many state officials, including two Secretaries of Agriculture (James Wilson and Henry Cantwell Wallace) and President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1921, Carver testified before Congress on behalf of peanut farmers who were being undercut by cheap imported peanuts from China. Carver’s testimony contributed to the adoption of the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 and made him a well-known public figure.

During the last decades of Carver’s life, he actively toured the country promoting peanuts, sweet potatoes, the Tuskegee University, and racial harmony. He published articles and newspaper columns, gave free advice to business leaders, attended conferences, participated in scientific surveys, and promoted organic farming. Carver died on January 5, 1943 from complications resulting from a bad fall down a flight of stairs.

The first observance of Carver’s death anniversary as George Washington Carver Day was initiated by the Pittsburgh-based National Achievement Club. It was held on January 5, 1944. Thanks to the Club’s efforts to spread the holiday, eight governors proclaimed Carver Day in their states in 1945.

In December 1945, President Harry S. Truman designated January 5, 1946 as George Washington Carver Day to recognize Carver’s contribution to the expansion of the agricultural economy of the United Stats. To honor Carver and his accomplishments, the flag of the United States was displayed on all government buildings on the third anniversary of his death. Although it was intended as a one-time celebration, some people and organizations observe Carver Day to this day.

It should be noted that the state of Iowa has its own George Washington Carver Day, observed annually on February 1. It was established in 2022 by Governor Kim Reynolds. George Washington Carver National Monument celebrates Carver Day every year on a Saturday in July to commemorate the establishment of the national park on July 14, 1943. The celebration includes guest speakers, music performances, guided tours, and other fun activities.

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