Black History Month is a very important time to celebrate and educate the world on the achievements of African Americans and their significant contributions to US history. Did you know that an African American invented the three light traffic signals? Probably not. Unfortunately, these are the things that are not taught in school. The Three-Light Traffic Signal was invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923.
Garett Morgan, a Black inventor and son of an enslaved parent; produced several significant inventions, including an improved sewing machine and the gas mask. As a motorist, he witnessed a severe car accident in Cleveland, Ohio. Being a quick thinker, he expanded on the current traffic light by adding a “yield” component, warning oncoming drivers of an impending stop, which probably saved the lives of millions of drivers who use the roads every day throughout the United States.
When it comes to inventions, most modern-day people heard about famous inventions like the iPhone by Steve Jobs, the light bulb by Thomas Edison to name a few. There are a lot of ingenious inventions that were invented by Black Americans that most of us use in our everyday lives and that have made our lives easier, but the inventors are often forgotten or not given the proper exposure that they deserve.
Millions of people depend on getting fresh produce, dairy, meat, seafood, to feed their families etc. This would not be possible without transporting these products in refrigerated trucks, since these items must be maintained at a certain temperature. With millions of refrigerated trucks bringing food, flowers, prescriptions and other essential items through the United States, this was an extremely important invention. The refrigerated truck was invented by Frederick McKinley Jones an African American in 1940 and is very an extremely important innovation that serves the world this very day. Without the use of refrigerated trucks, we would not be able to use the COVID vaccine which has saved the lives of millions of people across the globe. COVID vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer must be stored at a certain temperature or else it goes bad and must be thrown away.
Another famous invention by an African American woman was Dr. Patricia Bath who was an ophthalmologist and laser scientist. Bath was not only the first female African American doctor to patent a medical device, but also the first person to invent laserphaco cataract surgery that advanced treatment for cataracts. Dr. Bath was the first woman ophthalmologist to be appointed to the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine Jules Stein Eye Institute.
Living in today’s world, we all know how important security can be to make sure we are all safe and sound. We owe that to Marie Van Brittan Brown, who Co-Invented Home Security System in 1966. Marie was an African American nurse, who produced an early security unit for her own home. She was living in a neighborhood in Queens that had high crime rates and felt unsafe, and being a highly creative and ingenious person, created a device that would help put her mind at ease and feel more secure: a system that used a camera that could slide into and look through four peepholes in her front door and she monitored it from her monitor and boom the home security system was born.
Over time, Marie added other features to the system, including a microphone to speak to people who come to the door, a button to unlock the door, and a button to contact the police. Marie and her husband took out a patent for the system in the same year, and they were awarded the patent three years later in 1969.
Black history month is important because it allows the African American community to raise awareness and give visibility to the people and organizations creating change, educate the world on the accomplishments of African Americans who have played an integral role in building America and have been foundational to the growth of America, our economy and creating inventions that people use everyday and made our lives easier.