Diamond, MO— George Washington Carver National Monument is pleased to announce the park’s annual Carver Day Celebration to be held on Saturday, July 8, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., celebrating the life of George Washington Carver and the establishment of the national monument in his honor. This year we are commemorating the 80th anniversary of Carver’s passing and the subsequent establishment of the national park on July 14, 1943, the first one to honor an African American. The event is free of charge.
Guest speakers include Leo Landis, Museum Curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa. Mr. Landis will share insights into George Washington Carver’s time living in Iowa, which were critical years for Carver as a student and artist, and when he made the decision to change his career path to become an agricultural scientist. Steve Sitton, Site Supervisor at the Thomas Hart Benton State Historic Site, in Kansas City, Missouri will share a presentation entitled, Art, Race, and Thomas Hart Benton. Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton was one of the first white artists to paint African American life, labor, culture, and inequality.
Music is a huge part of the Carver Day fun. Musical performers this year include Lem Sheppard. Lem is a local jazz, blues, and folk musician who traces the history of African American music from both the North and South. Lem will perform African American music and stories from George Washington Carver’s lifetime and share the African American experience with visitors. Afrique Aya Drum and Dance Company, Fayetteville, Arkansas will perform traditional West African music and storytelling in a high-energy performance that is highly interactive.
Cherry and Jerry, a ragtime duo from St, Louis, Missouri, will blend history and music in their program “Early African American Composers.” It includes music by Scott Joplin, James Scott (born in Neosho, Missouri & raised in Carthage, Missouri), and other key figures in this genre which was very popular in George Washington Carver’s time.
Bright Star Touring Theatre, a national children’s touring theatre from Asheville, North Carolina, will perform Freedom Songs. This family-friendly, musical revue provides an energetic and engaging approach to learning about Black history. From songs that carried the secret messages needed to navigate the Underground Railroad, to the powerful anthems of the Civil Rights Movement, to Beale Street Blues, music has long been an integral part of American history which is celebrated in this production.
George Washington Carver was born enslaved and went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, as well as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver devised over 100 products using one major crop — the peanut — including dyes, plastics, and gasoline.
Carver’s iconic status remained after his death. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated $30,000 for the monument west of Diamond, Missouri — the site of the plantation where Carver lived as a child. The 210-acre complex includes a statue of Carver as well as a nature trail, museum, and cemetery.
Carver appeared on U.S. commemorative postal stamps in 1948 and 1998, as well as a commemorative half-dollar coin minted between 1951 and 1954. Numerous schools bear his name, as do two United States military vessels.