George Washington Carver: Master Inventor, Artist

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Faith has played a key role in the history of black Americans. It's what inspired the famous inventor George Washington Carver.

He once asked God to show him the secrets of the universe. However according to Carver, God started him out with something smaller - the peanut.

Carver took those secrets and produced hundreds of inventions that are still in use today.

The 'Plant Doctor'

Carver was born to slave parents near Diamond Grove, Mo. in 1864. The Civil War ended a year later and times were hard for blacks - something from which Carver and his family were not exempt.

He grew up poor and was denied an education, because of his race. But that didn't stop him from learning. Carver fell in love with the wonders of nature. It was a passion that earned him a nickname that lasted a lifetime.

"He was considered the "plant doctor" as a youngster," explained Tyrone Brandyburg of the Carver Museum. "He pretty much had a green thumb - everything he touched grew."

Carver eventually went to high school and later attended college at the age of 30. He earned a degree in agricultural science from Iowa State University.

In 1896, he completed his master's degree and was invited by Booker T. Washington to join the faculty of the Tuskegee Institute, a trade school for blacks in Alabama.

Witty Inventions

His research at the institute resulted in the creation of more than 300 products from peanuts -- products like cooking oil, paint and, yes, peanut butter. In addition, he created more than 100 products from sweet potatoes.

Carver is also responsible for inventing synthetic materials, such as marble and plywood. He even invented the dye which is still used in Crayola Crayons.

Also a talented in artist, Carver created some of his own art paints using local clays.

Brandyburg said many of Carver's inventions were not for him, but for the benefit of others.

"The people in the community were starving," Brandyburg explained. "They didn't have any money to take care of themselves//those items that were made from sweet potato and the peanut those were things Carver invented to help people just survive."

Carver: 'The Lord has Guided Me'

Carver is mostly known for his scientific contributions regarding the peanut. But he is also recognized as a devoted Christian, who boldly declared that the God of the universe was his source of inspiration.

Carver was often heard to say "The Lord has guided me," and "Without my Savior, I am nothing."

"Carver believed that the Great Creator gave him - or at least allowed him - to do these things or have these skills," Brandyburg said.

"He asked God to reveal to him the secrets of the universe," Tuskegee University's Frank J. Toland said. "God's response to him was that his mind was too small to perceive that."

To that Carver replied, "Then teach me the mysteries of the peanut."

*Originally published February 2008.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.