George Washington Carver National Monument is pleased to announce the park’s annual Carver Day celebration to be held on Saturday, July 8, 2023, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, celebrating the life of George Washington Carver and the establishment of the national monument in his honor. This year we are commemorating the 80th anniversary of Carver’s passing and the subsequent establishment of the national park on July 14, 1943, the first one to honor an African American. The event is free of charge.
Guest speakers include Leo Landis, Museum Curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa. Mr. Landis will share insights into George Washington Carver’s time living in Iowa, which were critical years for Carver as a student and artist, and when he made the decision to change his career path to become an agricultural scientist. Steve Sitton, Site Supervisor at the Thomas Hart Benton State Historic Site, in Kansas City, Missouri will share a presentation entitled, Art, Race, and Thomas Hart Benton. Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton was one of the first white artists to paint African American life, labor, culture, and inequality.
Music is a huge part of the Carver Day fun. Musical performers this year include Lem Sheppard. Lem is a local jazz, blues and folk musician who traces the history of African American music from both the North and South. Lem will perform African American music and stories from George Washington Carver’s lifetime and share the African American experience with visitors.
Afrique Aya Drum and Dance Company, Fayetteville, Arkansas will perform traditional West African music and storytelling in a high energy performance that is highly interactive. Cherry and Jerry, a ragtime duo from St, Louis, Missouri, will blend history and music in their program “Early African American Composers.” It includes music by Scott Joplin, James Scott (born in Neosho, Missouri & raised in Carthage, Missouri) and other key figures in this genre which was very popular in George Washington Carver’s time.
Bright Star Touring Theatre, a national children’s touring theatre from Asheville, North Carolina, will perform Freedom Songs. This family-friendly, musical revue provides an energetic and engaging approach to learning about Black history. From songs which carried the secret messages needed to navigate the Underground Railroad, to the powerful anthems of the Civil Rights Movement, to Beale Street Blues, music has long been an integral part of American history which is celebrated in this production.
Local church choirs will also be invited to perform.
Carver Day is also a time for kids to explore the park and connect to the child who was born here over 150 years ago. There will be guided tours, Junior Ranger activities, and more. The Diamond Lions Club will provide food concessions.
Carver Day celebrates the African American experience through speakers, storytelling, music, and educational programs. In keeping with Carver’s legacy of accessible and affordable education, Carver Day, like all our programs, is free of charge. Carver is presented in partnership with the Carver Birthplace Association.