Born Diamond Grove (formerly Diamond), Missouri
Born into slavery, George Washington Carver overcame the obstacles of slender means and racial discrimination to seek an education. He believed that "when you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."
These words, coupled with his lifelong goal to help poor black farmers trapped in sharecropping and dependency on cotton as a crop, pervaded his work at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, where he was director of agricultural teaching and research for nearly forty years.
Carver's laboratory investigations led to the discovery of more than 450 new commercial products-ranging from margarine to library paste-that could be extracted from previously untapped sources such as the peanut and sweet potato. He demonstrated for southern farmers the wisdom of diversifying crops, instead of relying mainly on the soil-exhausting crop of cotton.