We visited today and were surprised at how well maintained the grounds were and how well the story of George Washington Carver was presented. We started at the visitor center where a park employee told us to watch the short video about GWC. It was a great place to start, and only took 10 minutes or so. Following are well presented exhibits on the life of GWC and the people and times he came from.
There was a lot of great information about the influence of his childhood spent on the Carver farm. His mother and he were taken by slave raiders and she was forever lost. GWC was just a barely alive infant whose rescue required the payment of a racing horse to the mercenary who recovered him. He and his brother were then raised on this farm by there former owner Moses Carver.
After the visitor center we took the walking tour. This was our favorite part of the visit. The farm is an absolute gem, with a beautiful clear water spring and several creeks with well maintained bridges. While there we spotted a beaver swimming in the spring, as well rabbits and fish. The woods today were full of blooming honeysuckle and made the forests incredibly fragrant and magical. The fields were full of wild flowers and birdsong. You could see how the naturalist genius of George Washington Carver could really have been sparked by growing up in such an amazing place.
The Carver house was nicely maintained and the cemetery told it's own poignant tail of hard lives and childhood mortality. It was an interesting composition of spring fed nature, an oasis on the edge of the prairie, and the hard working pragmatic people who lived here.
At one point in the video the narrators felt compelled to explain why there is a GWC National Park at the site of his birth. At the end of the trail there is sign that takes up the same challenge. This park is amazing and it does beg the question, "Why GWC?" The park originated in the 40s and the short story is this park helped build on the good feelings Americans had for this folk lore hero who came from nothing. America needed an African American hero who stood for the things that Booker T Washington and The Tuskegee Institute represented. Examples of non-threatening blacks who espoused self-determination. This park is a living monument to that need. Which brings up my final impression.
In the video and at his bronze bust you get to hear George Washington Carvers actual voice. The narrator warns that his voice is high-pitched. Yeah I guess so. I would never have imagined his voice. Any actor who affected that pitch in portraying GWC would be laughed at. Now you have a mission, go to Diamond MO and listen to George Washington Carver and appreciate why there is such a fabulous national park honoring his birth.
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