Change Without Revolution

On the tidy, tree-studded campus of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute this week, Negroes and whites (including Alabama's governor) will honor a onetime slave who was once traded by his master for a broken-down race horse. Shy, shuffling George Washington Carver, who died in 1943, had spent a lifetime performing scientific miracles. In his tiny laboratory, which he equipped from a rubbish heap on the campus, he had created hundreds of industrial products out of the common stuff—clay, peanuts, potatoes—he found about him.

For the occasion, Tuskegee will auction off the first issue of the George Washington Carver postage stamp. It was...