Society

African American Inventors In U.S. History

The success of black people in the scientific community seems crucial when it comes to opening doors closed by racism. These inventors influenced not only the US but the whole world.

African American inventors play an essential part in the history of the United States of America. The success of black people in the scientific community seems crucial when it comes to opening doors closed by racism. These inventors influenced not only the US but the whole world.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

Although Brown was working as a full-time nurse, her contribution to the field of home security systems is immense. Image credit: timeline.com

Although Brown was working as a full-time nurse, her contribution to the field of home security systems is immense. Her patents later inspired methods used for surveillance, monitoring, and alarm-based devices. Brown’s original idea was a system that had a peephole, a way to monitor the outside of your property, and a panic button that would instantly send a distress signal to the police.

Charles Drew

Drew contributed immensely to the technology of blood transfusion, saving countless lives in World War II. Image credit: catwalker / Shutterstock.com

Continuing with people who saved millions of lives, this black inventor sure holds his place. Drew contributed immensely to the technology of blood transfusion, saving countless lives in World War II. While he was active as an outstanding doctor of his field, the law that separated ‘’black’’ and ‘’white’’ type of blood was still active. That ultimately made Drew decide to leave the American Red Cross organization, who insisted on this racist policy. It was not until 1950 when the American Red Cross finally dropped that law. 

Garrett Morgan

Morgan created the first gas mask. Image credit: biography.com/

One thing you most likely did not know is that the traffic light did not have a middle position before. It was just a stop and go type of signalization, which did not give people enough time to stop if they approached the crossroads at high speed. Thankfully, Morgan fixed that by adding one more step in-between the lights.

If that did not save enough lives, he made sure that the soldiers around the world thank him for creating the first gas mask. The so-called safety hood was initially designed with firefighters in focus, but it was quickly adapted to carry its air supply.

Martha Jones

This was a device that could husk, shell, cut, and remove a husk from corn in a single step.

This inventor holds an exceptional place in the history of African American inventors. On May 5, 1868, Martha Jones became the first black woman to receive a US patent. However, it is still unclear how an African-American woman applied for a license before the Civil War even started.

She gained recognition for her original ideas when she came up with the Corn Husker. This was a device that could husk, shell, cut, and remove a husk from corn in a single step. The potential of the cornhusker was quickly utilized in speeding up production in agriculture

Elijah McCoy

This was a revolutionary device used in train transportation. Image credit: entergynewsroom.com

You know you got something great when people start copying your ideas. The same thing happened to Elijah McCoy, who made over 50 inventions during his career. In 1872, McCoy came up with the so-called lubricating cup. This was a revolutionary device used in train transportation.

With a cup that automatically oils up parts that often need lubrication, he eliminated the need for frequent lubrication of trains. The lubrication cup was a huge success, and every company in the railroad business wanted that technology. Even knock-off products came on the market, but people wanted, as they called it then, ‘’The Real McCoy.’’

George Washington Carver

He was an expert when it came to soybean fungi. Image credit: biography.com

Carver was born in Missouri, as the Civil War was well underway. Leaving the life of a slave behind, he became the first black student at Iowa State, earning his master’s degree. For all his life and career, G. Washington Carver was interested in agronomy. He was an expert when it came to soybean fungi, and he developed incredible ways when it comes to processing different plants and vegetables. Carver alone developed more than 300 different uses for peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes: making soap, paint, and even skin lotion. 

Marian R. Croak

Most of her patents belong to the software technology category, as Croak is a master of VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol). Image credit: libertywritersafrica.com

Another inventor that has more than a notable number of registered patents and inventions is Marian R. Croak. Playing in the tech field, her success brought her the highest of honors when she became a member of the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2013. Most of her patents belong to the software technology category, as Croak is a master of VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol)

Alexander Miles

This inventor from Duluth, Minnesota, created an incredibly important feature for elevators. Image credit: history.com

This inventor from Duluth, Minnesota, created an incredibly important feature for elevators. In 1887, Miles patented his design of automatic doors that increased the level of safety in elevators to a huge extent. Before that, both doors and the shaft had to be opened manually, which was a huge risk, because people could fall down the shaft if someone forgot to close it.

Otis Boykin

There is an impressive number of inventions attached to Otis Boykin. Image credit: teacher.scholastic.com/

There is an impressive number of inventions attached to Otis Boykin. One of the most important ones must be the redesign of circuits found in pacemakers. After his mother died because of heart problems, Boykin improved the technology of a pacemaker, a device that saved a myriad of lives.

On top of that, Boykin was involved in the development of IBM computers. On his list of inventions, we can find filters that chemically treat the air, cash registers that are burglar-proof, and even the construction of resistor parts of the electric circuits found in missiles. 

Dr. Shirley Jackson

Dr. Jackson became the first black woman to receive a doctorate in nuclear physics. Image credit: technologyreview.com

In 1973, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Jackson became the first black woman to receive a doctorate in nuclear physics. Academic success on MIT and the various experiments she did in the field of theoretical physics, inspired Shirley Jackson to contribute to many modern technological advancements: touch-tone type of telephone, a portable fax machine, the options of waiting and caller ID, and the fiber-optic cable. Currently, Dr. Jackson is the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York).

Who became the first black woman to receive a doctorate in nuclear physics?

Dr. Shirley Jackson became the first black woman to receive a doctorate in nuclear physics.

Citations

Your MLA Citation

Your APA Citation

Your Chicago Citation

Your Harvard Citation

Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

More in Society