Black History Month: Things you never knew were invented by black people

By Aimone Sharif – Head of Editorial

The month of October, also known as Black History month, aims to show and recognise the amazing things black people have done for the development of our society. There are a lot of things you use daily and you didn’t even know it was a black person who invented it, well brace yourself because if black people didn’t help us throughout time, we would be nowhere.

1. Light bulb carbon filamentLewis Latimer

It is common knowledge that Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in itself; but Lewis Latimer (1848-19280) perfected it by making it cheaper, long lasting and more efficient.  Edison’s prototypical light bulb had a filament that burnt out quickly, but Latimer invented a filament made with more durable carbon, and sold the “Incandescent Electric Light Bulb with Carbon Filament” patent to the United States Electric Company in 1881. Latimer enabled every common American household to benefit from the electric light bulb. In 1876, he also helped Alexander Graham Bell with his telephone drawings. He oversaw the installation of public electric lights in US, UK, and Canada. He also invented water closet for railroad cars and a precursor to the air conditioner.

No need to point out that that guy had talent!

2. The Cataract Laserphaco Probe Patricia Bath

Born in Harlem, Patricia Bath became the first African-American to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. Two years later, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. In 1976, Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that “eyesight is a basic human right.” In 1986, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, improving treatment for cataract patients. She patented the device in 1988, becoming the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent. Why it’s Important?  Her device used an innovative method of removing cataract lenses with a laser, which was more accurate than the drill-like instruments that were in common use at the time. Her invention helped save the eyesight of millions and even restored sight to people who had been blind for more than 30 years.

3. The Super SoakerLonnie Johnson

Lonnie G. Johnson changed childhoods forever when he invented the super soaker water gun. As a Tuskegee graduate who joined the Airforce and was assigned to Strategic Air Command, Johnson worked on the stealth bomber program. He also worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. While working on an enviro-friendly heat pump, he invented the super soaker, and later started Johnson Research & Development and acquired some 100 patents.

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4. Mobile refrigeration- Frederick M. Jones

Before Frederick McKinley Jones invented his portable cooling unit, perishable items were transported in trucks filled with ice.  He revolutionized the industry by creating a cooling system that could be mounted on the roof of the vehicle and would keep food fresh during long journeys. Thermo King, the company he co-founded, became a leading manufacturer of refrigerated transportation. Jones also developed an air-conditioning unit for military field hospitals and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. Jones was awarded over 60 patents during his lifetime.

5. Traffic lightGarrett  Morgan

Imagine what the roads would look like without traffic lights. Well, thanks to Garrett A Morgan, we don’t have to. Born to freed slaves, with only 6th grade level of education, Morgan owned a repair shop, clothing business, and cosmetic product line. He was a gifted inventor reportedly the first African American to own an automobile in Cleveland, Ohio. He started The Cleveland Call black newspaper in 1920, and patented the mechanical traffic light in 1923 and sold it to General Electric.

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6. The Dougie!

To finish off, one of the best invention in history is the worldwide Dougie dance performed by the likes of Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and even Michelle Obama!   The dance originally created by rapper Doug. E Fresh inspired the famous Cali Swag District to release their 2010 song about the popular dance. Doug admitted he’s quite proud of it: “This is the first time in history, in hip-hop, a rap artist didn’t make the dance himself, like make a song about the dance himself,” the rapper said during an interview. “This was people making the dance about you. Taking your dance and doing it about you. That ain’t ever been done before. This is another level. It was a blessing and I appreciated it. It feels good that people know you created something and it wasn’t for money, it was for the love of Hip-Hop.”

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“Teach me how to Dougie, teach me teach me how to Dougie!”

All these inventions have been vital the development of our society, we owe it to these legends and to many more (the list was too big!). October is the month where we celebrate black people’s achievements and acknowledge how blessed we are to have them as part of our culture!

 

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Black History Month: Things you never knew were invented by black people