In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it seems fitting to highlight Iowa State’s first African-American student and first African-American faculty member. Beloved by peanut aficionados everywhere, George Washington Carver was born a slave and died a respected scientist and teacher. A building on campus is even named after him. He is best known for his work with peanuts, which resulted in 325 different products made from the legume.
Carver became the first African-American student to enroll at Iowa State College (University) in 1891. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1894 and earned his master’s in 1896, after which he joined the faculty at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute at the invitation of Booker T. Washington.
One additional note: Carver is thought to have been born around 1864 (the exact year and date is unknown), meaning this year likely marks his 150th birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Carver!