THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
VIDEOTAPED REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT FOR DR. GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER NATIONAL RECOGNITION DAY December 16, 1999
THE PRESIDENT: It's an honor for me to send my greetings to all of you in Santa Clara. I thank you for what you're doing to help instill the joy of science in our children, to help close the digital divide, and to honor the legacy of George Washington Carver.
Dr. Carver overcame enormous obstacles to become one of our greatest scientists and teachers. He was born to a slave mother on a Missouri farm, orphaned from an early age, survived great illness, and often was the victim of bigotry and hate. It wasn't until his late 20s that he was able to obtain a high school education.
And even as a child, Dr. Carver was known for talking to God through flowers and other plants. It's no wonder that agriculture became his ministry to mankind. At Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute, Carver applied the almost magical possibilities of chemistry to the fields and farms of the South. He created 300 useful products from peanuts, and more than 100 from sweet potatoes, spawning numerous industries. He helped save the South's depleted soils. And no person deserves more credit for liberating the South from its reliance on cotton.
Dr. Carver was also a great humanitarian. In everything he did, he was motivated by a deep desire to help poor, struggling farmers lead healthier, happier, more prosperous lives. And as if his scientific contributions were not great enough, he donated his entire life savings to help establish the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee.
Dr. Carver once said that he tried to lead his life "in the spirit of a little child seeking only to know the truth and follow it." That is the spirit of discovery that the Healing Institute and the Santa Clara Alliance of Black Educators are helping to nurture in our children today. I am deeply grateful for that.
Congratulations to all the Carver Scholars, and to all of you who are helping our children soar beyond limitations. God bless you all.