According to Slaughter, Tao & Pearson (2015), in the field of science and engineering, Black Americans have recorded some tremendous achievements that enabled the American Industrial Revolution. These inventions have significantly transformed the world as well as impacted to the scientific history. The extraordinary inventions discovered by the African-Americans especially 19th and 20th centuries has revolutionized the world. Even though African-American was a minor group in America that experienced discrimination and racism, Martin Luther through civil rights campaigns ended severe racism. As a result, the Black community in the United States developed strong will and determination. African-American inventors have shaped the technological development of America and the world in general. The African-American society both men and women have imperatively empowered the global community as well as the coming generations of all races with scientific, technological, agricultural and medical inventions that shape the world today.
African Americans as Inventors and Scientists
The trace of the African American inventors and scientists can be traced back on 10th April 1790 when the first African American inventor, George Washington was provided with the patent by the government. Before the prominent American Civil Right of 1861 to 1865, slavery was legalized in America (Cook, 2011). The slaves were perceived as the property of the slave owners; therefore, they could not be given patents. However, this never stopped these slaves from inventing innovations. For example, Onesimus, a man from Massachusetts who was a slave to Puritan leader Cotton Mather discovered the treatment for smallpox. Ebar, another slave discovered a broom originating from broomcorn in 1800. Slave inventor who was subject to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This slave invented a ship propeller that was utilized by the whole Confederate navy.
According to Cook (2011), the most prominent African American inventors during 18th, 19th and 20th centuries include Benjamin Banneker (a mathematician and a surveyor), James Forten (a war revolutionary) and George Peake. There are other notable African Americans who invented various things in various fields. These inventors include:
Contributions of the African Americans Inventors
Sullivan & Haskins (2002) suggests that Black Americans have contributed anonymously in various fields of science like physics, medicine, mathematics, and biology, nuclear as well as space sciences among others. The contributions of African American in the chemistry field involves the establishment of synthetic drugs used in the treatment of chronic diseases like cancer. In the physics field, Black Americans have assisted in the invention of a laser device that is used in the medical treatment of cancer patients. In the therapeutic area of study, African Americans have discovered some various diseases such as leprosy, syphilis, and cancer. From inventors, surgeons to chemists and zoologists, the Black Americans have achieved some invaluable accomplishments in the field of science and humanity. Most of these eminent African Americans produced these significant scientific contributions in the face of the intense racism and bigotry.
African Americans have increasingly contributed unanimously in the field of medicine. Otis Boykin, born in 1920 and died in 1982 discovered 28 electronic medical devices, for example, the control unit for the heart pacemaker. Boykin invented a wire precision resistor that proved to be cost-effective to produce. This precision resistor has as well improved the functionality of electronic gadgets like transistor radios, missile systems, IBM computers as well as televisions. Boykin is accredited for other scientific inventions like a burglar-proof cash register, chemical air filter, and electrical resistance capacitor. Lonnie George Johnson is an example of the contemporary Black American engineering inventor who discovered the super soaker water gun (Slaughter, Tao & Pearson, 2015).
Dr. Ben Carson was an African American doctor born in 1950. Carson is renowned for the very first successful operation in separating Siamese twins in the world. Dr. Ben Carson invented the procedure of performing an inter-uterine operation to treat hydrocephalic twin. Dr. Carson also discovered the procedure of performing hemispherectomy, a surgical operation to remove half of the brain in a child to treat the severity of the epileptic seizures (Sullivan & Haskins, 2002). Dr. Percy Julian was a research chemist renowned for inventing synthetic steroids used in the therapeutic interventions of arthritis as well as other inflammatory diseases. Dr. Percy Julian is also accredited to the development of soy protein foam process used in the extinguishing fires on aircraft carriers.
Dr. Charles Drew was an African American medical doctor born in 1904. He is internationally known for his medical work with blood plasma. Drew assisted the American medical department in establishing an American Red Cross blood bank. Drew also created the first blood bank in European nations like England. He developed medical standards for blood collection and blood plasm procession. Drew is accredited for the first mobile blood donation centers. Dr. Lloyd Hall was an African American born in 1894. Hall discovered food sterilization and preservation. As a result, Hall helped in the improvement of the food packaging and preparation processes. Dr. Lloyd Hall technique of sterilization has been assimilated in the sterilization of the medical tools, pharmaceuticals, and spices (Sullivan & Haskins, 2002).
George Washington Carver was among the earliest African Americans who invented in Agriculture. Carver was a reputable researcher who promoted alternative crops productions that assisted in the production of nutritious food in the families (Slaughter, Tao & Pearson, 2015). Carver aimed at improving poor farmers by providing alternative crops that would be the source of food as well as products that would improve the livelihood of people. Norbert Rillieux is born 1806 was a son of a French planter. He was educated in France. Upon returning to America, he invented an evaporator used in refining sugar. This technique is applied to date in the sugar industries and the soap manufacturing industries. Emmett W. Chappelle was born in 1925. He is an African American biochemist who operated along NASA and invented the approach of bacteria detection in the water, food and the body fluids.
African Americans Technological Inventions
African Americans have invented various technological devises and tools. For example, carbon-filament the light bulb is a technological invention that is associated with Lewis Latimer, an African-American scientist. Even though Thomas Edison might be accredited to the development of the very first light bulb in the world, Latimer conducted the empirical research and modified it for human consumption. The invention of carbon-filament caused the cheap production of the light bulbs that were more efficient, a factor that encouraged its popularity. If it were not for the Latimer and Edison efforts, the world today would be a dark hell to live in (Cook, 2011).
The gas mask is another important technological inventions in the world that resulted from African-America Garrett A. Morgan. Garret Morgan’s designs were aiming at improving the living standards of the people. He invented gas mask around 1916, since its invention, the gas mask has been used in the emergency department to ensure safety during dangerous conditions like fire outbreak. The gas mask was highly utilized during the Second World War to save millions of the people who lived in the war fronts (Sullivan & Haskins, 2002).
The traffic signal inventions are connected to an African American inventor and scientist Garrett A. Morgan in 1923. Considering that the world was being filled with motor vehicles at a high rate, Morgan’s traffic signal invention was highly appreciated since it was explicitly designed for the revolutionary approach in traffic control and coordination. This model was precisely incorporated with stop and go signals. Initially, before the improvement, these signals demanded hand-cracking to operate. In the current world, traffic control signals are models that have been advanced from the Morgan’s “stop” and “go” traffic control model (Aaseng, 1997).
African American inventions have ventured in the field of medicine. The first blood banks are associated with the Black American, Dr. Charles Richard Drew. This was approximately invented in 1940. The original research of Richard Drew was based on the separation and storage of plasma that encouraged efficiency (Slaughter, Tao & Pearson, 2015). Drew discovered the strategy and procedure of dehydrating plasma thus enabling the possible formation of the blood banks. Since then, this procedure became so crucial in the treatment of the wounded soldiers who participated in the Second World War. The procedure saved many deadly wounded soldiers.
Automatic refrigeration systems are physical inventions discovered by Frederick M. Jones on July 12, 1940. This is one of the world and essential inventions that aren’t noticed yet. However, they have transformed the shape of the universe. Other inventions linked to Jones include railroad cars and ships. These inventions have radically improved the world’s infrastructure. If it were not for these inventions, food, as well as other perishable goods, couldn’t be transported faster (Slaughter, Tao & Pearson, 2015).
Electroacoustic transducer the electret microscope an invention connected to James E. West was discovered in 1962. West were an African American scientist and an inventor. This invention of the microscope has mothered the communication in contemporary society. This microphone was primarily applied in the telephones; however, in the modern society, the invention is utilized in various technological niches. According to Cook (2011), 90% of the modern microphones designed are based on the original design crafted by West.
Marie Van Brittan Brown and Albert Brown in 1966 discovered closed-circuit television security system. Even though this original design can be perceived as archaic when reflected upon the modern circuit, the conceptual idea discovered by these African Americans greatly imparted the modification of the closed-circuit security (Slaughter, Tao & Pearson, 2015). The invention had provided the background for the police investigations. This invention has facilitated the emergence of camera-based security that is installed in private homes and public spheres.
George Carruthers discovered far-ultraviolet camera and spectrograph around 1969. This invention was a necessary step in astronomical science and observation. This is because, far-ultraviolet camera and spectrograph have provided an opportunity for scientists to observe ultraviolet operations in the atmosphere along with other space phenomena (Aaseng, 1997). Since Carruthers was NASA R&D pioneer, far-ultraviolet camera and spectrograph enabled him to go to the moon during the Apollo 16 launch in 1972. Basically, if this Black American could not discover far-ultraviolet camera and spectrograph, most of the knowledge regarding the space exploration could not be known.
Dr. Patricia Bath, an African American medical practitioner in the United States, was much dedicated in handling and looking for approaches of alleviating visual problems from the population. As a result of her endeavors, Patricia discovered laserphaco probe and cataract surgery procedures in 1966 that was utilized in improving visual conditions. The Laserphaco together with the operation procedure revolutionized cataract surgery. This made it safer and more appropriate alternative for visual sufferers. The invention is so imperative because it acted as the necessary foundation for cataract surgery medical technology that is applied to date (Sullivan & Haskins, 2002).
Implications of the African Americans’ Inventions
The technological inventions of the great men and women of the black community can be traced back to 1619 when the first African slaves settled in the United States, especially at Jamestown, Virginia. African-Americans are great scientists and inventors. These great people are accredited from extensive discoveries of technological items that are influential to contemporary society. These discoveries of the African-Americans range from practical daily devices to applications along with the scientific inventions in various technological fields. The Black-American inventors and scientists have contributed densely in the fields like physics, medicine, mathematics, and biology, nuclear as well as space sciences (Randolph, 2017).
Without the contributions of these great Africa American men and women inventors, the world could not be operating smoothly today. These contributions have been significant in upgrading the lives of the people in the world. Not only the America society that has benefited from these tremendous technological and humanistic inventions. Inventions made by the Black Americans have spearheaded transformative changes in the world in many ways that other inventors (Randolph, 2017). However, the technological and scientific advances made by the Black-American inventors and scientists are in most cases turned down regardless of the essential effects they have made all over the world.
In the current world, life is shaped by the inventions contributed by the African Americans most in the 19th and 20th centuries. Just imagine how life could if there were no blood banks, personal computers and touch-tone telephones (Randolph, 2017). African Americans have improved agriculture, have facilitated better medical services through their inventions in the field of medicine, and the field of physics. For instance, Mark E. Dean contribution in the development of the IBM personal computer has impacted the field of medicine, research, and computer science and information technology. This invention improved the nature of the communication especially when ISA bus was created. The ISA bus is a hardware interface that gives room to various devices such as modems, keyboards, and printers to be connected to the computer. As a result, the invention spearheaded the development of the personal computer application in offices and businesses (Aaseng, 1997).
Since the presence of African Americas in the United States around 1619 in North America, these Black Americans have tremendously contributed literature, clothing manufacture, food preservation methods, medicine, music, technological and artistic innovations in the American culture. The culture of cultivation and the consumption of various products from agriculture in the United States is traced to the African sources as well as early Black American influences. Some of these products include yams, sorghum, watermelon and cotton among others. The two notable African Americans who contributed in the American agriculture was George Washington Carver, an agriculturalist, and biologist who invented more than 300 agricultural products from peanuts, derived 118 products of sweet potatoes and 75 pecan products. George Crum introduced potato chip around 1853.
African American scientists and inventors have significantly contributed to the world and global innovation. Some of the African American inventors were subdued because of racial discrimination, especially during the civil war era. An example it the slave inventor who was subject to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This slave invented a ship propeller that was utilized by the whole Confederate navy.
Almost every invention in the United States is accredited to the Black Americans in one way or the other. This is because, in virtually all fields discussed above, great and influential inventions were made by the African Americans. The African-American society both men and women have imperatively empowered the global community as well as the coming generations of all races with scientific, technological, agricultural and medical inventions that shape the world today. Therefore, African Americans have greatly influenced the living standards of the people not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world through their inventions.
Aaseng, N. (1997). Black Inventors. Facts on File. Retrieved from http://libdoopetc.com/black-inventors-Nathan-racing-books-in-pdf-format-free.pdf
Cook, L. D. (2011). Inventing social capital: Evidence from African American inventors, 1843–1930. Explorations in Economic History, 48(4), 507-518. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014498311000179
Randolph, J. (Ed.). (2017). African American Inventors & Scientists. Enslow Publishing, LLC. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2A5iDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=African+American+Inventors+&ots=vEz7nDQmQ9&sig=Gi0imc0LQ2roKFYz-YI7ikZ7gVY
Slaughter, J. B., Tao, Y., & Pearson Jr, W. (Eds.). (2015). Changing the face of engineering: The African American experience. JHU Press.
Sullivan, O. R., & Haskins, J. (2002). Black Stars: African American women scientists and inventors. Wiley.