- Historic Sites
George Washington Carver And The Peanut
New Light on a Much-Loved Myth
August 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 5
Over the past two decades black scholars such as Herman R. Branson, E. Franklin Frazier, and Michael R. Winston have published books and articles containing informed assessments of Carver’s scientific work. Most have compared it unfavorably with the important work of such unpublicized black contemporaries as Ernest Everett Just, a productive Howard University biologist, and Charles Henry Turner, an authority on insect behavior. Carver’s much greater fame, they agree, derived from his folk appeal and his willingness to behave as whites wished blacks would behave. But the impact of these reassessments, limited in circulation, has been no match for the image perpetuated by the Reader’s Digest , countless textbooks and juvenile biographies, the Americana and Britannica encyclopedias, the New York Times , and the Washington Post . Legends—especially useful ones—die hard.