February kicks-off Black History Month! Over the next 28 days and throughout the year, we must all celebrate the accomplishments of the many Black men and women who have contributed to the history of America. From inventors of a century ago to the election of the first Black President, let’s take a brief look at some of the familiar and not-so-familiar faces who played a significant role in changing the face of our country for the better:
Garret Morgan, born in Paris, France was the child of former slaves. He along with his brothers invented the first gas inhalator after rescuing a group of men caught by an explosion in a smoke-filled tunnel under Lake Erie. In 1872, he also invented the traffic light, can you imagine the chaos without this significant invention.
In 1885, Sarah Goode, was the first Black woman to patent an invention. A furniture owner from Chicago, she developed the first folding cabinet bed.
Also that year, Madame C.J. Walker, formed the first national hair care and cosmetics corporation by selling her products door-to-door. Her hair care and miracle grow products revolutionized Black hair in the early 20th century.
African American, Sarah Boone, patented an improvement to the ironing board in 1892. Her design was effective in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.
Elijah McCoy (1844 – 1929)
The phrase “the real McCoy?” was coined from the over 57 patents invented by Elijah McCoy. Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1843, the son of slaves who had fled Kentucky, he was educated in Scotland and returned to the United States to pursue a position in his field of mechanical engineering. McCoy is best known for his invention of a lubricator for steam engines that did not require the train to stop. His lubricator used steam pressure to pump oil wherever it was needed.
Civil Rights Movement with leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and many more fought for social justice and equality for all Black people. There work in the movement led to equal rights and constitutional changes in the United States. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in Harlem, NY. Three years later, on April 24, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King was also assassinated. Today, we owe our freedom and civil rights to these great leaders who sacrificed their lives for a greater good.
Arthur Ashe became the first African-American male to win the British Men’s Singles championship at Wimbledon.
Doctor Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist from New York invented the Cataract Laserphaco Probe patent as a method for removing cataract lenses. This development transformed eye surgery by using a laser device, which made the procedure more accurate
Ms. Janet Emerson Bashen became the first African American female to hold a patent for a software invention. The patented software, LinkLine, is a web-based application for EEO claims intake and tracking, claims management, document management and numerous reports.
In November 2008, we all witnessed history as Senator Barack Obama of Chicago became the first Black man to be elected President of the United States of America.
Thank you to all the wonderful Black inventors, leaders, and athletes from all walks of live that have enhanced our lives and made history in the process!!