Wilberforce University (1976)

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Bethune Cookman University (1970)

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1940 Conclave

1940 Conclave | Tuskegee University, Alabama

Bros – I hope all is well.

You have to thank Uncle G (Bro. George Nelson) for this one. His prized possession was this 1940 Conclave Picture. While he was never guarded with his Sigma Items, he was very particular about this one. I finally convinced him to let me have a copy made from his original. The original had been in the same frame since 1940. This picture was actually taken on his 22nd birthday (December 30th), and this was his first Conclave. He would talk for days about this Conclave, because he had the opportunity to meet Bro. Dr. George Washington Carver. And Bro. RA Billings came out of the Southern Region as the President. Uncle G had stories.

There is a picture of Uncle G with Dr. Carver, but I do not have it, but in the 1983 Crescent, the picture appears. He would have you crying when telling the story. The picture was supposed to be for Sigma men with 20 plus years in the fraternity. Uncle G runs and grabs the Sigma Banner and holds it in front of Dr. Carver, and said, “no way he was leaving that picture, so there Uncle G is, with one year in the frat, holding the banner with Dr. Carver!”

Right before he passed (3/2/2010), I went down to Tennessee to visit him and he had his 1940 picture professionally redone for me. When I get to his nursing home, he says to me (hazing at 91 years old), which one do you want, the original or the one I have made for you? Let me see how good you are. What do you think I answered with?

Have a good weekend and add this one to your collection. Not many of these around.

ps. Someone find that banner for me. Uncle G said he didn’t have it, it belonged to the Bros at Tuskegee!

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Gamma Zeta Chapter (1950)

Savannah State University

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George Washington Carver Membership Certificate

Here is a copy of George Washington Carver 1920 Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Certificate. Originally initiated in 1918, George Washington Carver was a charter member of the Tuskegee Institute Alumni Chapter made up of Tuskegee Faculty members.

He began his formal education at the age of twelve, which required him to leave the home of his adopted parents. Schools segregated by race at that time with no school available for black students near Carver’s home. He moved to Newton County in southwest Missouri, where he worked as a farm hand and studied in a one-room schoolhouse. He went on to attend Minneapolis High School in Kansas. College entrance was a struggle, again because of racial barriers. At the age of thirty, Carver gained acceptance to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he was the first black student. Carver had to study piano and art and the college did not offer science classes. Intent on a science career, he later transferred to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in 1891, where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1894 and a Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897. Carver became a member of the faculty of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanics (the first black faculty member for Iowa College), teaching classes about soil conservation and chemurgy.

Agricultural Chemistry
As an agricultural chemist, Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were his recipes and improvements to/for: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum , mayonnaise , meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain.

Among many awards and honors were:

  • Spingarn Medalist 1923 (botanist)
  • The first African American to have a national monument dedicated to and the first to honor someone other than a president.
  • Two ships, the Liberty ship SS George Washington Carver and the nuclear submarine USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) were named in his honor.
  • In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a “Black Leonardo Hannah”
  • George Washington Carver was commemorated with a three cent stamp in 1948
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