TUSKEGEE, Ala.– The Tuskegee University community ended Black History Month by celebrating one of the most important parts of its academic and research history. The 15th George Washington Carver Convocation honored Carver’s work and emphasized that his legacy lives on in Tuskegee students. The event was held in the Tuskegee University Chapel and is part of a year of events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Carver’s birth.
Booker T. Washington, the university’s first president, brought Carver to Tuskegee in 1896. Carver served as head of agriculture and performed some of his most groundbreaking research in agriculture and food science while at the institution.
Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the administrator for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, was the speaker for the event. In her position, Jacobs-Young said she is reminded daily of the significance of Carver’s influence and contributions. She said her agency embraces Carver’s philosophy of bringing the benefits of research to farmers in the field.
“Today, the scope of our work is much larger… But, that core value passed down by George Washington Carver of helping the farmer to remain productive and profitable remains the bedrock of everything we do at the Agricultural Research Service. That is George Washington Carver’s legacy for me, ” Jacobs-Young said.
She shared her story of growing up the poor child of a single mother in “The Bottom” area of Augusta, Ga. and how she changed her circumstances. Jacobs said many of the hardships she experienced as young person are common among African-Americans and that her story is a testament to the power of education, making the most of opportunities, and Carver’s legacy.
She said agriculture education will become even more important in the coming years as the world’s population expands from six billion to an expected nine billion people in 2050. Jacobs-Young said that well-trained people with vision are needed. She asked that the students in the audience seize opportunities in science and agriculture.
“Each one of us has the capacity to change the world. However, the price of change is often high and risky,” Jacobs-Young said. “We need you to take up that challenge. You want to save the world? Figure out how to feed another three billion people.”
After her address, she was presented with the George Washington Carver Outstanding Achievement Award by Tuskegee University Acting President Dr. Matthew Jenkins.
The next event to honor Carver will be held on April 4 at 10 a.m. CST. The George Washington Carver Museum on campus will re-open with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The National Park Service facility has been offline since last year so it could undergo renovations.
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