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Healing Insanity with Lessons from the Past

Three men who influenced each other and changed history
(discussed on Blog Talk Radio show January 6, 2023, download and forward to 1 hr 28 min into the show)

Samuel Armstrong
Samuel Chapman Armstrong born in Maui, Hawaii to (white) missionary parents in 1839.  He was an American soldier and general during the American Civil War who later became an educator, particularly of non-whites. The son of missionaries in Hawaii, he rose through the Union Army during the American Civil War to become a general, leading units of African American soldiers. He became best known as an educator, founding and becoming the first principal of the normal school for African-American and later Native American pupils in Virginia which later became Hampton University. He also founded the university’s museum, the Hampton University Museum, which is the oldest African-American museum in the country, and the oldest museum in Virginia.
Booker T. Washington
Perhaps the best student of Armstrong’s Hampton-style education was Booker T. WashingtonBooker was born into slavery in 1856, after emancipation they moved from VA to WVA (WVA had seceded and joined the Union as a free state during the Civil War. As a young man Booker worked his way through Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute (a historically black college now Hampton University) and attended Wayland Seminary (now Virginia Union University).  After coming to the school in 1872, Washington immediately began to adopt Armstrong’s teaching and philosophy. Washington described Armstrong as “the most perfect specimen of man, physically, mentally and spiritually the most Christ-like….” Washington also quickly learned the aim of the Hampton Institute. After leaving Hampton, he recalled being admitted to the school, despite his ragged appearance, due to the ability he demonstrated while sweeping and dusting a room. From his first day at Hampton, Booker embraced Armstrong’s idea of black education. He returned to Hampton to teach on Armstrong’s faculty. Upon Sam Armstrong’s recommendation to George W. Campbell, Lewis Adams, and Mirabeau B. Swanson, a three-man board of commissioners appointed by the Alabama Legislature, Booker Washington became in 1881 the first principal of the new normal school in Alabama, which evolved to become Tuskegee University in the 20th century. Many religious organizations, former Union Army officers and soldiers, and wealthy philanthropists were inspired by the work of pioneering educators such as Samuel Armstrong and Dr. Washington, to create and fund educational efforts specifically for the betterment of African Americans in the South. In his autobiography Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington stated that what made the greatest impression on him at Hampton was General Samuel C. Armstrong, “the noblest, rarest human being that it has ever been my privilege to meet.” “One might have removed from Hampton all the buildings, classrooms, teachers, and industries, and given the men and women there the opportunity of coming into daily contact with General Armstrong, and that alone would have been a liberal education.” (Up from Slavery, Chapter III)  He also said, “It is now long ago that I learned this lesson from General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, and resolved that I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”

George Washington Carver was born an enslaved person in the 1860s in Missouri. The exact date of his birth is unclear, but some historians believe it was around 1864, just before slavery was abolished in 1865.  In his early career, Carver was overshadowed by Booker T. Washington, the famed educator who successfully recruited him to teach at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Carver was a devotee of Booker’s teachings, and he believed that his agricultural research could help black farmers become more self-reliant. He wanted small Southern farms to become more sustainable and less reliant on cotton — the region’s dominant cash crop — for survival.  The relationship between Booker T. Washington and Carver was a complicated one, in large part because the botanist was kind of a diva. He was beloved by his students, but he wasn’t a good administrator and he actively avoided the more mundane aspects of teaching. He regularly threatened to resign from Tuskegee, even though Booker extended him all kinds of privileges other faculty members didn’t enjoy, and regularly touted the young scientist’s intellect.

During one of his lectures, Dr. Carver described the conversation with God that got him started studying the peanut.
I asked, “Dear Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for?”
The great Creator answered, “You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask something more your size.”
Then I asked, “Dear Creator, tell me what a man was made for.”
Again the great Creator replied, “Little man, you still ask too much. cut down the extent of your request and improve your intent.”
So then I asked, “Please, Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the peanut was made?”
“That’s better, but even then it’s infinite. What do you want to know about the peanut?”
“Mr. Creator, can I make milk out of the peanut?”
“What kind of milk do you want, good Jersey milk or just plain boarding-house milk?”
And then the great Creator taught me how to take the peanut apart and put it back together again.

Dr. Carver revolutionized the southern agricultural economy by showing that 300 products could be derived from the peanut (see The National Peanut Board reports Dr. Carver’s works to include food products that ranged from “peanut lemon punch, chili sauce, caramel, peanut sausage, mayonnaise and coffee. Cosmetics included face powder, shampoo, shaving cream and hand lotion. Insecticides, glue, charcoal, rubber, nitroglycerine, plastics and axle grease are just a few of the many valuable peanut products discovered by Dr. Carver.” By 1938, peanuts had become a $200 million industry and a chief product of Alabama. Carver also demonstrated that 100 different products could be derived from the sweet potato.

Although he did hold three patents, Carver never patented most of the many discoveries he made while at Tuskegee, saying “God gave them to me, how can I sell them to someone else?”

Dr. Carver works included the development of agricultural derived adhesives, gasoline fuel, shaving cream, shampoos, hand lotions, insecticide, glue, bleach, sugar, synthetic rubber, and other innovations from natural agricultural resources. He devoted his life to understanding nature and the alternative uses of a simple plant. He is reported to have extracted medicines from weeds and through the separation of fats, oils, gums, resins and sugars. There are amazing discoveries yet to be found that God is waiting on someone to ask Him about. George Washington Carver is an excellent model for us of how God wants to speak to us.

Here are eight cardinal rules Dr. Carver gave for his students:

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