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Best of Iowa Humanity Put in Spotlight

"Selfishness and self are at the bottom of a lot of troubles in the world. So many people fail to realize that serving God and one's fellow men are the only worthwhile things in life. It is service that counts."  George Washington Carver. (skeeze/Pixabay)
"Selfishness and self are at the bottom of a lot of troubles in the world. So many people fail to realize that serving God and one's fellow men are the only worthwhile things in life. It is service that counts." George Washington Carver. (skeeze/Pixabay)
September 18, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Born a slave and then orphaned, George Washington Carver faced continual rejection until he found a welcoming home in Iowa, where he earned a college degree and began his groundbreaking work as an inventor and botanist.

Des Moines Area Community College is paying tribute to that legacy this week as it presents the 2017 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service and Innovation Award.

Carver scholar Paxton Williams said the way the state embraced Carver is something Iowans can be proud of and reflect upon as they consider what kind of people they can be today.

"They welcomed someone who didn't come from here, who came from a different background, who was a foreigner,” Williams said. “But they welcomed him and they inspired him. And as a result, he was able to change the world."

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, and Dr. Simon Estes, internationally renowned opera singer and humanitarian, will receive the Carver award Thursday evening at the college.

Williams said he hopes people walk away from the dinner with an understanding that, even in the 1880s and '90s, there were people that, "got it right" and saw the benefits of kindness and inclusion. He said the event is intended to be much more than a history lesson.

"There might be other Carvers out there as well, who might need that same sort of inspiration, that same sort of encouragement,” he said. "We want to both pay tribute, but then we also want to remind people of the kind of people that Iowans traditionally have been and the kind of people that Iowans can be."

Proceeds from the dinner will support the renovation of the 1872 school attended by a young Carver, and the continued development of an accompanying distance-education enabled educational and interpretive center.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA