Characters: Scientist 1, Scientist 2, Scientist 3, Scientist 4, & Professor Carver Scientist 1



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A Weed is a Flower

The Life of George Washington Carver



by

Aliki
The peanut plant is a legume




Characters: Scientist 1, Scientist 2, Scientist 3,

Scientist 4, & Professor Carver
Scientist 1: George Washington Carver was born in Missouri in 1860 – more than a hundred years ago. It was a terrible time.
Scientist 2: Mean men rode silently in the night, kidnapping slaves from their owners and harming those who tried to stop them.
Scientist 3: One night, a band of these men rode up to the farm of Moses Carver, who owned George and his mother, Mary.
Scientist 4: Everyone ran in fear.
Professor Carver: But before my mother, Mary, could hide me, the men came and snatched us both, and rode away into the night.
Scientist 1: Moses Carver sent a man to look for them.

Scientist 2: Mary was never found.
Scientist 3: But in a few days, the man returned with a small bundle wrapped in his coat and tied to the back of his saddle.
Professor Carver: It was me, George.
Scientist 4: Moses and his wife, Susan, cared for Mary’s children.
Professor Carver: I remained small and weak.
Scientist 1: But as George grew, they saw he was an unusual child.
Scientist 2: He wanted to know about everything around him.
Scientist 3: He asked about the rain, the flowers, and insects.
Scientist 4: He asked questions the Carvers couldn’t answer.
Professor Carver: When I was very young, I kept a garden where I would spend hours each day caring for my plants. If they weren’t growing well, I found out why.
Scientist 1: Soon the plants were healthy and blooming.
Scientist 2: In winter, he covered his plants to protect them.
Scientist 3: In spring, he planted new seeds.
Professor Carver: I looked after each plant as though it was the only one in my garden. Neighbors began to ask my advice about their plants, and soon they began to call me …
Scientist 1, 2, 3, 4: the Plant Doctor.
Scientist 4: As time went on, George wondered about more and more things. He wanted to learn and yearned to go to school.
Scientist 1: In the meantime, the slaves had been freed, but schools nearby were not open to blacks.
Professor Carver: So when I was ten, I left my brother, my garden, and the Carver farm and went off to find the answers to my questions.
Scientist 2: Wherever George Washington Carver found schools, he stayed. He worked for people to earn his keep.
Professor Carver: I scrubbed their floors, washed their clothes, and baked their bread.
S

cientist 3:
Whatever George did, he did well. Even the smallest chore was important to him.
Scientist 4: Some people took George in as their son.
Scientist 1: First he stayed with Mariah and Andy Watkins, who were like parents to him.
Scientist 2: Then he moved to Kansas and lived with “Aunt” Lucy and “Uncle” Seymour. They too loved this quiet boy who was so willing to help.
Professor Carver: I worked hard for many years, always trying to save enough money for college.
Scientist 3: Other boys, who had parents to help them, were able to enter college much sooner than George.
Professor Carver: I was thirty before I had saved enough.
Scientist 4: Still, it was not that simple. Not all colleges would admit blacks, even if they had the money to pay.
Professor Carver: I became very discouraged. I moved to Iowa and found a college which was glad to have a black student.
Scientist 1: At college, George continued to work.
Professor Carver: I opened a laundry where I washed my schoolmates’ clothes.
Scientist 2: And, he continued to learn. His teachers and friends soon realized that this earnest young man was bursting with talents.
Scientist 3: George played the piano, sang beautifully, and was an outstanding painter.
Professor Carver: In fact, for a time I thought of becoming an artist. But the more I thought of what I wanted to do, the more I wanted to help my people.
Scientist 4: It was at this time he remembered that his neighbors used to call him the Plant Doctor.
Scientist 1: He had never forgotten his love for plants. In all the years he had wandered, he always had something growing in his room.
Scientist 2: So, George Washington Carver chose to study agriculture.

P

rofessor Carver
: I learned about plants, flowers, and soil. I learned the names of the weeds. Even they were important to me.
Scientist 3: He often said:
Scientist 1, 2, 3, 4: A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place.
Professor Carver: I still asked questions. If no person or book could answer them, I found the answers myself.
Scientist 4: He experimented with his own plants, and found secrets no one else knew.
Professor Carver: When I finished college, I began to teach.
Scientist 1: He was asked to go to Alabama, where a college for blacks needed his talent.
Scientist 2: It was there, at Tuskegee Institute, that George Washington Carver made his life.
Scientist 3: In Alabama, Professor Carver taught his students and the poor black farmers, who earned their livelihood from the soil.
Scientist 4: He taught them how to make their crops grow better.
Professor Carver: Most of the farmers raised cotton. But sometimes the crops were destroyed by rain or insects, and farmers couldn’t earn enough to eat.
Scientist 1: Professor Carver told them to plant other things as well.
Scientist 2: Sweet potatoes and peanuts were good crops.





Professor Carver: They were easy to grow.
Scientist 3: He said that raising only cotton harmed the soil.
Scientist 4: It was better if different crops were planted each year.
Scientist 1, 2, 3, 4: The farmers did not want to listen.
Professor Carver: They were afraid to plant peanuts and sweet potatoes. They were sure that no one would buy them.
S

cientist 1:
But Professor Carver had experimented in his laboratory. He had found that many things could be made from the sweet potato.
Professor Carver: I made soap, coffee, and starch.
Scientist 2: He made more than a hundred things from the sweet potato.
Scientist 3: And even though people in those days called peanuts “monkey food,” Professor Carver said they were good for people, too.
Scientist 4: Besides, he found that still more things could be made from the peanut.
Professor Carver: Paper, ink, shaving cream, sauces, linoleum, shampoo, and even milk! In fact, I made three hundred different products from the peanut.
Scientist 1: Once, when important guests were expected at Tuskegee, Dr. Carver chose the menu.
Scientist 2: The guests sat around the table and enjoyed a meal of soup, creamed mock chicken, bread, salad, coffee, candy, cake, and ice cream.

Scientist 3: Imagine their surprise when they learned that the meal was made entirely from peanuts!
Scientist 4: Slowly, the farmers listened to George Washington Carver.
Professor Carver: They planted peanuts and sweet potatoes. Before they knew it these became two of the most important crops in Alabama.
Scientist 1: Soon the whole country knew about Dr. Carver and great things he was doing. He was honored by Presidents and other important people.
Scientist 2: Every day, his mailbox bulged with letters from farmers and scientists who wanted his advice.
Professor Carver: I was offered great sums of money, which I turned down. Money was not important to me. I didn’t even bother to cash many of the checks I received.
Scientist 3: Throughout his life, George Washington Carver asked nothing of others. He sought only to help.
Professor Carver: I lived alone and tended to my own needs. I washed my clothes and patched them, too. I used the soap I made and ate the food I grew.
Scientist 4: Dr. Carver was asked to speak in many parts of the world, but he did not leave Tuskegee often.
Scientist 1: He had things to do.
Professor Carver: I continued to paint. I worked in my greenhouse…
Scientist 2: and in his laboratory, where he discovered many things.
Professor Carver: I discovered that dyes could be made from plants, and colors from the Alabama clay.
Scientist 3: Even when he was over eighty and close to death, Dr. Carver kept working.
Scientist 4: Night after night, while the rest of the town lay asleep, a light still shone in his window.
Scientist 1: The baby born with no hope for the future grew into one of the great scientists of his country.
All: George Washington Carver,
S

cientist 2:
with his goodness and devotion,
Scientist 3: helped not only his own people,
All: but all peoples of the world.






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