Monday, October 22, 2007

Growing pains...

A man named Joseph was working at Iowa State University in the late 1800's. He was considered the leading horticulturist in the country, having practically invented the science. In fact, something like 75 percent of the nation's horticulture chairmen at universities of the time either studied under him or were said to be inspired by him. The government fsent him to Russia at one point to study plants there and to see if any could be brought to grow in the harsher climates of the U.S.

Joseph had a daughter, Etta, who taught art at Simpson College in Iowa. Etta ran into a student who was a young black man, the son of slaves. He loved to paint but also loved gardening, and Etta got him gardening jobs in the area. Etta told the man that he couldn't make a living at art, that gardening was a much better option, and that he should head to Iowa State to study under her dad.

The man did that. However, he was unhappy the day Etta dropped in to see him. The problem was that, as the only black student on campus, he had to eat alone in the kitchen while the white students all ate in the dining hall. So Etta simply took the man into the dining room, and started eating with him, day after day, until the man was accepted by the rest of the student body.
The man graduated from Iowa State, went to grad school there, and became the first black teacher in Iowa State history before moving on to another job.

It's funny what happens when you plug in names from your family tree into Google. The original teacher was Joseph Lancaster Budd, a relatively distant relative. His daughter was Etta May Budd. And the student was George Washington Carver.