America's African heritage; 8
The National Association of educational broadcasters presents America's African heritage recorded in Africa by Skip Westfall. Program 8. We talk with a friend of George Washington Carver. Here is Kip Westfall. It often happens on a trip such as this that the most interesting people you meet are traveling companions. Friendly folk that you meet along the way. That was my experience on the train this afternoon during the journey from the tidy to label that has my good fortune to meet a gentleman from Atlanta Georgia Dr. Harry Richardson president of gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta. On our arrival in Leopoldville Dr. Richardson agreed to take a few minutes for this tape recording to share with us some of his experiences. What is the purpose of your visit to Africa Dr. Richard. Well Mr. Westfall my visit to Africa has three main
purposes. First I came to share in a study that is being conducted by the World Council of Churches on areas of rapid social change. They're studying Liberia to see what the changes are and how they are affecting the lives of people in what the church can do about it. I shared in that study. Since then my interested to see something of a Christian mission work in this great continent. And then my third purpose is to see at first hand a little bit of African culture because as we know the culture of Africa has maybe a rich contribution to American life. And my purpose in coming here seems to be quite similar to yours Dr. Richardson for I too I'm interested in Africa's contribution to American life. Now you mentioned that you had been in Guyana. Did you have an opportunity while there to visit any of the castles from which slaves were once shipped to America. Yes I visited the castle in Akra the capital of Goma in
which the prime minister of Ghana him our lives. I was very much interested in that because at one time that castle was the compound where sleeves were stored before they were rolled out to the slave ships which were anchored for sure that there I would have always been anxious to see a little bit of the slave trade in and get some understanding of it. And how do you feel that the coming of the slaves influenced American culture where on the slave. Trade brought to America millions of negro slaves and these persons not only served America by by their economic contribution that is the way they raised the cotton they did. They fell the forests in the south. They did much of the manual labor in establishing the basics of an economy but they also brought a rich music
and they brought a very cultured way of living into southern and American line. It was even the colored mammy's who educated the children. Yes I think the one of the think the culture of the or rather I think the contribution of Africa to American culture can perhaps best be seen in the gracious problem of living that characterized the always shall we don't often think it but we must remember that that life was largely the work of the black mammy as she is called That is the mistress of the Southern home who read to children who directed the household and who set the pattern for the behavior of seven children and seven about. They made a very gracious kind of living on which southerners still look back with lonely eyes or isn't it remarkable that the Negroes for the most
part and educated at that time was able to make a contribution to the American way of life which is perhaps best seen in the gracious living of the Old South. Yes it is remarkable and I was very much surprised to find that although we think our African tribal life is uncivilized. It is not cultured on refined for instance. I visited a number of tribes and in some cases stayed overnight and they were so kind and gracious to me so anxious to be friendly that they almost embarrassed me with their kindness. Isn't it a pity that this beautiful contribution to American riot had to come through the bitter experience of the slave trade. I was told by the police officer whom I interviewed the other day at the mine of cattle that over a million negroes died at the hands of the slave traders before they even reached the coast. That number is far too small to write for it has been said
that for every negro who reached the western hemisphere alive to die you know the journey across the ocean on the slave ship was terribly painful and hazardous. For instance in order to get as many slaves on a ship as possible the decks for only three or four feet high and sleeves could not stand on the journey never they were laid flat on their backs with their heads one way and there the foot of another next to it they were jammed in there. Hot stinking holes of those ships like sardines and then lying like that day in and day out they were attacked by all kinds of diseases but particularly among which were dysentery and the fevers they were brought up on deck periodically for exercise and for air and then they suffered so on the journey that when they're at the minute they would reach the deck
many of them would voluntarily jump aboard. It had been sent down to the schools of sharks would follow a slave ship clear across the Atlantic Ocean because they knew of it every little while one or more bodies would be falling overboard. I recall visiting an old slave ship some years ago. It was on a tour at the time. I think it was in Boston and I remember how there was a space of only three or four feet between the decks. That certainly was a sad page in the history of world civilization. The cruel story of the slave traffic on the program a doctor at a time and I recorded it on mine a castle I made the statement that these very dungeons from these very dungeons came the forefathers of great scientists like George Washington Carver. Would you agree with that statement. Yes I really believe in that completely. Dr. Carmona was the child of a slave mother and a slave father. He was a slave himself. You're sure he wouldn't know I was born a slave on the on the
farm of Morse's car in Missouri that's where you got the name coward. Now you mentioned on the train this afternoon that you were personally acquainted with Dr. Carver. Yes I worked with him for 12 years I was with him when he died and I buried him after he died I worked at trustee Institute for 16 years. CHAPMAN Yes and you knew him for that time. I look in your oh 16 he was a deeply religious man wasn't a yes a very religious into tears. He used religious methods in his scientific studies. He told me that whenever he wanted to study an object to find out its possibilities or its properties he would first sit down and then take the object in his hands and pray a little prayer. This was the prayer mystic creator. Why did you make it and he said he never arose from that prayer. An answer I have heard many stories about Dr. carvers scientific
greatness and his complete devotion to human service. Do you know of any of these stories from. Your personal experience with. Yes I know many of them would you tell us one of them. Well this is one I tell it as quickly as I can. There was a man in there Georgia who had a large piece can grow the trees began to get sick with the queer disease and they were dying. He tried some of the best surgeons in America and they couldn't cure the trees then you heard of Dr. Carr. And he wrote him and told him that his trees were being attacked by this disease from. He asked not to come if you could help him. I was with Dr. Carr at the time and I wrote this reply. He phoned up the car. He dictated the letter to a degree and his hands were wet with something with which he was working and he asked me to write a reply The reply was that there if you will send me a sample of one of the trees I will study it than see what I can suggest accompanying the man
step in tremendous sample he said almost a whole tree. Dr. Kalmar studied it and then he wrote the man a letter suggesting the use of certain chemicals and other veins and shortly after the man wrote back and said there there in the in the medicine all the treatment with effective that if there be he had checked the disease and that Dr. Carver had saved his fortune and he was deeply grateful he sent he asked what were the costs. And not to cover wrote him back and say this has cost you nothing but the price of stamps on your letter. Well he evidently had a little concern about tonight. He was absolutely unconcerned about money during the Depression through the when one of the bank failures of that time Dr. Carver lost $40000 which was his complete life savings. You didn't worry him any more than the loss of $40 would worry you or me.
I remember one day the president of the bank was very much depressed he was contemplating suicide. He went to talk with Dr. Carver. He looked terribly disturbed when he went in Dr. carvers room when he came out he was looking much brighter and happier. And it surprised me that it was Dr. Carver who had lost the $40000 but he was comforting the banker instead of the banker going in to comfort him and the doctor crabbers Ross probably meant much more to him actually had been so much to the point it was only hand. Now how would you describe Dr. carvers influence on American life. Doctor you know I think Dr. Conrad stood in the shower as an example of the as a scientific pioneer and he was one of the early man to discover. New products in the south and above all new movie uses for such products as their work you know for example that he got there. One hundred and fifty products out of sweet
potatoes and over 200 out of peanuts. And he was I think you read today for example this house is undergoing great is technological development in its history. I think Dr. Carver served to stimulate much of that technological and scientific development. What's been most interesting to realize that from this great continent of Africa have come men of the stature of George works in the dark. We had the time we could mention many other great American scientists educators and philosophers whose forefathers followed the better trail which led this way to markets such as the one we visited on the shores of the Gold Coast. Thank you for sharing this time with me Dr. Richardson and good luck to you on the remainder of your journey through Africa. Thank you Mr. Eskom at the conclusion of our interview Dr. Richards has suggested. I retraced my steps about a hundred and twenty miles on the road to MMA tidy to get a recording of the empty campaign as required.
We are now in the church at the mission training school in comparison. In a moment we will hear the choir singing in the Congo. Let us rejoice in the Savior. Yeah yeah. Yeah.
- America's African heritage
- Episode Number
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4911 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “America's African heritage; 8.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h41jnf19>.
- APA: America's African heritage; 8. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h41jnf19