- The Booker T. Washington-George Washington Carver Half Dollar marked the end of the line for the classic commemorative coin series that began in 1892 and wended through more than 60 years of various colorful designs, ostentatious release ceremonies, and scandalous financial abuses. The Washington-Carver Half Dollars emerged in 1951 effectively as a continuation of a Booker T. Washington Commemorative Half Dollar program that launched in 1946 but labored to gain any meaningful attention from the numismatic public.
Sales of the coin quickly slumped following an initial burst of public interest. Dr. Sidney J. Phillips, who was the president of the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, was hard-pressed to liquidate the many thousands of remaining Booker T. Washington Half Dollars remaining on hand before August 7, 1951, per a clause in the authorizing legislation stipulating a five-year production window for the coin. The public was unenthusiastic about the coin, which would help fund memorials to be built in honor of Washington and his broadly popular socioeconomic teachings.
With the aim to continue raising funds for memorials to Washington, Dr. Phillips helped gather steam for new legislation providing for a commemorative half dollar that would raise funds "to oppose the spread of Communism among Negroes, in the interest of the national defense," a phrase that surely garnered wide support during the early Cold War period. In an era when anti-Communist Joseph McCarthy, an outspoken Wisconsin United States senator, was leading witch hunts for "Commies," the bill partly arranged by Dr. Phillips passed with relative ease on September 21, 1951, and the Washington-Carver Half Dollar was born. Check out this coin on ebay
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