How Black Innovators Have Shaped Our World

by A Collier
black innovator

How Black Innovators Have Shaped Our World

Join us in celebrating some amazing people. Here are some of the ways that Black innovators have shaped our world, from toys to traffic lights.

black innovator

Join us in celebrating some amazing people. Here are some of the ways that Black innovators have shaped our world, from toys to traffic lights.

We are living in the age of redefining history. Like many marginalized and minority groups, Black innovators and their contributions to society and the world have been overlooked and misattributed to others.

But that’s all changing. Historians are revisiting different parts of history and discovering more and more ways that Black inventors, entrepreneurs, and visionaries have shaped their generations and the generations after them.

We thought we’d spend some time celebrating these amazing people, so here are some of the ways that Black innovators have shaped our world, from toys to traffic lights.

Electret Microphone: Dr. James E. West, 1964

If you have used cell phones, hearing aids, professional microphones, or any other acoustical technology to transmit sound, you can thank Dr. James E. West.

A research professor, Dr. West is the co-inventor of the foil-electret transducer or microphone, a sensitive piece of technology that changed the way we interpret sound through devices. Listen to him talk about his invention in this YouTube video.

Three-Position Traffic Signal: Garrett Morgan, 1923

Garret Morgan was a Black innovator who created the traffic light as we know it. Though the first-ever traffic light was put up in London in 1868, Morgan’s three-position traffic signal improved upon the current “stop” and “go” system at the time. His invention made road crossings much safer than the signals of the day.

Potato Chips: George Crum, 1853

George Crum was another Black inventor, but his invention came about in an unusual way. In 1853, he was a chef in New York, and he had a customer who sent a dish of French fries back to the kitchen because they were “too thick.”

Annoyed, Crum sliced some potatoes as thinly as he could, fried them until they were hard, and tossed on some salt. Instead of hating the crisps, the customer loved them, and Crum went on to open his own restaurant and serve bowls of chips to every table.

Super Soaker: Lonnie Johnson, 1989

Lonnie Johnson is a Black inventor and engineer, and one of the country’s most beloved summer toys was actually a happy accident. He was trying to create a heat pump that used water as the working fluid when a jet pump that was attached to the system accidentally shot a stream of water across a bathroom.”

Fun fact: the water gun was originally named the “Power Drencher.” Read more about him here.

Chemotherapy as We Know It: Dr. Jane Cooke Wright, 1950s

In the 1940s, Dr. Jane C, Wright was a Black innovator working alongside her father in his studies of the effects of chemotherapy on cancer patients. While she didn’t invent chemo, her strong belief that these chemicals could be modified and used to treat specific patients is the basis for all chemotherapy treatments as we know them today.

Here’s a fascinating article that recounts her life and work, and its impact on modern medicine.

Legendary Haircare from Harlem: Madam C.J. Walker, 1905

Born Sarah Breedlove, Madam C.J. Walker is the first female self-made millionaire. A Black inventor by necessity, Walker suffered from hair loss at a young age and created a line of hair care products specifically for Black hair types. You can read about her, and more Black innovators from Harlem, in this article.

Harlem has been a community that fosters innovation since its inception. You can find Harlem in the roots of many things, from jazz music to chicken and waffles to Dapper Dan’s unique hip-hop fashion trends.

The Next Famous Black Innovator Could Be You

The HarlemAmerica Digital Network was created with the goal of amplifying professional Black voices who are looking to gain fame, fortune, and followers. Your ambition and your journey as a Black inventor, entrepreneur, entertainer, or other industry professionals could be the perfect way to connect to your target audience and grow your business to new heights.

The HarlemAmerica Digital Network is for Black professionals looking for someone to help them create and produce amazing podcasts on a network that understands your needs and ambitions.

Check out our website to learn more about our small business membership packages.

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