By Dr. Mal Couch
Public prayer, spiritual publications of poems and music, have always been a part of America, until recently. There are forces now trying to silence the Christian spiritual heritage of open and free expression to our God that made this nation great.
Each week Iíll add some historical tidbits as how Christian expression and public prayer was a vital part of our nationís blessing. We may not fully know of the spiritual state of all the men we examine, but we do know none of them were fearful of prayers to the God of the Bible in the public setting.
If you are a pastor or Sunday school teacher, please print off these little bits of our history and share them with others.
Carver should be recognized as the most important Black leader in America. Unfortunately many do not see his contributions in that light. Carver was born a slave child toward the end of the Civil War. His parents were killed by Night Riders coming from the Kansas Territory. Carver was raised by a Christian White family who took him in as their own.
Being a sickly child, he would often lie in bed and memorize large portions of the Psalms and Proverbs. Instinctively it seems, he early on had a great curiosity about plants and flowers. He would collect specimens in jars and place them on the mantel at home. When it was time to go to school, he was not allowed to attend the local schools because he was Black! Instead, he was home schooled by his foster
Carver applied and was accepted at several colleges but when he arrived on campus he was turned down because of his color. While this broke his heart, he was finally accepted at a small university where he majored in biology. He began to catalog many specimens of plants and grasses, and in time, was recognized as an expert in such cataloging. As well, as a young man, he became a concert pianist and did fairly well at portrait painting. He graduated from college with a Masters degree in biology.
Booker T. Washington opened a new Black college in Tuskegee, Alabama, and hired Carver to head up the agriculture department. As a totally dedicated Christian, Carver would begin each day with prayer out in the woods by a stump. Carver’s genius became known worldwide. He helped revitalize the soil of the state of Alabama by crop rotation, and by the introduction of the peanut as a sell-able food crop. From the peanut he discovered many products, including peanut butter. He also did food research work with pecans, sweet potatoes, and other plants. He developed disappearing ink for the Army, and the process for quick freezing food. By the time he died in 1943, Carver had helped revive the economic conditions of the southern Black communities but as well as all farmers. From the sweet potato and the peanut, he developed instant coffee, shaving cream, axle grease, milk flakes, talcum powder, synthetic rubber, and shampoo.
Carver’s spirituality was awesome. He believed prayer helped him make a viable contribution in the world. He is said to have prayed all day long, from the time he got up until bed time! He never married and never cashed his checks from teaching at Tuskegee. Those checks went back to the school upon his death. For decades he taught a Sunday school class for his students. He readily let people know that he prayed constantly and talked with God in his laboratory. He urged his students to do likewise.
Just before he died, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Tuskegee and honored him. Unfortunately, for years the Black community did not. They felt he was "an Uncle Tom" and was not militant enough towards the White world.
It is said that Carver only missed one day from teaching school. That was the day he went into the woods and prayed all day about marrying a certain girl. When he came out of the woods he had his answer. He remained a bachelor dedicating all his life to serving Christ!