BMHUK Magazine | October/November 2011 www.blackmentalhealth.org.uk
Because the contribution has been so Great
By Michael Williams
Much of the African contribution to science and invention, like many other aspects of black history remains obscured or has become largely hidden over time.
Granville T. Woods 1856 -1910 M George Washington Carver 1860-1943
ost people today are completely unaware that many of the products and labour saving devices they use on a daily basis
were born out of the genius and efforts of black scientists. Black History Month presents the perfect opportunity to remember some of forgotten black scientists and inventors ans see how we benefit from their inventions today.
Garret Morgan 1877 – 1963 Morgan was an black American scientist who invented a traffic signal system in 1913, which is the predecessor to the modern day traffic light system till in use today. He also invented a gas mask in 1914 which was used in the world wars, both these inventions have since saved many lives.
Granville T. Woods 1856 – 1910 Woods is one the greatest electromechanical engineers the world has known, this African from America held over 35 patents on electromechanical devices, they included improvements to railway systems, telegraphy and telephone instruments and the Bumper Cars. Woods inventions were so great that he was constantly in court fighting infringement against other inventors who tried to steal his ideas. A once famous court case was that of Woods Vs Edison, Woods won. Later Thomas Edison asked Woods to join his Elite Pioneers group but Woods declined and set up a company with his brother Lyte Woods.
Madam C J Walker 1867-1919
George Washington Carver 1860 – 1943 Carver is recognised as one of the most brilliant scientists the world has ever known. Born into slavery, Carver later managed to buy his free- dom as an adult. He created more than over 300 new products from the peanut, Soya bean and sweet potato. Carvers invention include creating milk from peanut oils, face cream, ink, paints and rubber and soya plastics, Soya Milk and other Soya food products.
Carver was the was a head lecture at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was also a consultant to Henry T Ford the famous motor manufacturer and many of Carvers inventions where incorporated into Ford’s cars. Wahsington was also a consultant to Thomas Edison, who invited Carver to join his elite pioneers group many times, but George carver declined in order to continue educating the next generation of Black scientists and inventors at Tuskegee Institute.
Madam C J Walker 1867 – 1919 Walker was a pioneer in the hair and beauty industry. She invented a hair grower solution from ingre- dients she saw in a dream after she lost her hair. It worked for her and her friends so she expanded from friends, to door-to-door sales, to mail-order to opening factories and labora- tories for Black women’s hair care. In 1919 she employed 25,000 black women in her factories. She became not just the richest Black woman in America but the richest woman in America in her time.
Garret Morgan 1877-1963
Lewis Latimer 1848 – 1928 Latimer made the carbon filament, which allows the light bulb to burn for months. He also had a talent for mechanical drawing, such that he made the drawings for the, telephone which Alexander Graham Bell went on to patent meaning it is now known as his, rather than Latimer’s inven- tion. Latimer also lived in the Lewisham London for a while where he helped to set up the UK street lighting system. Latimer was also a part of Thomas Edison’s Elite Pioneers group. Lewis Latimer was also a poet, musician, writer, artist and a civil rights spokesman.
Michael Williams founder and director of Bis Publications
Bis Publications have a range of books about these great inventors and other black scientists at www.bispublications.com
Bis Publications also have an event this month entitled Hip Hop Black Scientists and Inventors http://bispublications2.eventbrite.com/
Image right: Lewis Latimer 1848 - 1928
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