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Best In Black Inventors For Black History Month 2024

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Happy Black History Month! This February we are highlighting the ‘Best In Black’ is correlation to this year’s Urban One Honors theme, premiering February 25th on TV One! Of course there are many, many ways that showcase the greatness of Black people, we will be sharing a few throughout the month. 

Also See: Black Inventor Lanny Smoot Becomes First Disney Imagineer To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame

Today I am highlighting every day essential items that you may or may not know were invented by Black men and women. From 3D movies to the traffic light, our people have used their creativity, knowledge and life experiences to make things easier and more enjoyable for all of us. Continue scrolling to see 15 of the many inventions by Black people: 

1. Dust Pan

Dust pan image with selective focus Source:Getty

The dustpan was invented by Lloyd P. Ray in 1897. A metal plate with a short wooden handle that allowed sweepers to collect trash without getting their hands dirty,

2. Folding Chair

Modern black chairs isolated Source:Getty

In 1855 John Cram created an armless chair and the folding chair was patented.

3. Mailbox

Vintage mailboxes with flying in envelopes, post delivery composition, 3d render cartoon style Source:Getty

The street letter drop mailbox with a hinged door that closed to protect the mail was invented by Philip B. Downing. He patented his new device on October 27,1891.

4. Incandescent Light Bulb

closeup of an old burning light bulb Source:Getty

Lewis Howard Latimer was a member of Thomas Edison’s research team, which was called “Edison’s Pioneers.” Latimer improved the newly-invented incandescent light bulb by inventing a carbon filament which he patented in 1881.

5. Ironing Board

Ironing board isolated on white background with clipping path Source:Getty

In the late 19th century, the ironing board was improved by Sarah Boone. She created a narrower and curved design, making it easier to iron garments. Boone’s design morphed into the modern board that we use today. Boone’s design was patented on April 26, 1892. She is one of the first Black women in U.S. history to receive a patent. 

6. Golf Tees

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Final Round Source:Getty

George Grant invented the golf tee and it was patented on December 12, 1899. 

7. Lawn Sprinkler

Automatic sprinkler watering green grass on sunny day in garden. Irrigation system Source:Getty

J.W. Smith patented the Lawn sprinkler on May 4, 1897.

8. 3D Movies

A banner for the film industry. A movie date. A movie camera, 3D glasses, popcorn in striped cups on a stylish concrete gray background. The premiere of the film. Source:Getty

In the late ’70s, Valerie Thomas discovered that concave mirrors could create the illusion of 3dimensional objects and she began experimenting with how to visually transmit the 3D illusion. In 1980, Thomas patented her illusion transmitter which allows us to watch 3-D movies today.

9. Gas Mask

Gas mask with filter for survival in the environment of polluted air. Source:Getty

The gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan. Morgan used his gas mask (patent No. 1,090,936, 1914) to rescue miners who were trapped underground in a noxious mine. Soon after, he was asked to produce gas masks for the US Army.

10. Electric Microphone

Microphone vector design isolated on white background, ready to use icon. Source:Getty

Dr. James E. West co-invented a foil electret microphone, which was less expensive to produce than the typically used condenser microphones. 

11. 3-Way Traffic Light

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Garrett Augustus Morgan, who also developed the gas mask, was the first person to patent a traffic signal. He has many other inventions as well.

12. Refrigerated Trucks

A White Semi Truck on I-70 Traveling West In Southern Utah on a Sunny Afternoon Source:Getty

Frederick McKinley Jones created a roof-mounted cooling system to refrigerate goods on trucks. This was major improvemnet during extended transportation in the mid-1930s. He received a patent for his invention in 1940 and co-founded the US Thermo Control Company, later known as Thermo King. 

13. Blood Banks

Close Up Shot Of Hand Of Black Male Blood Donor With an Attached Catheter. African Businessman Squeezing Heart-Shaped Ball To Pump Blood Through Tubing Into Bag. Donation For Organ Transplant Patients Source:Getty

Dr. Drew was an medical doctor and surgeon who started the idea of a blood bank. Drew’s project was the model for the Red Cross’ system of blood banks, of which he became the first director. 

14. Masking Tape and Clear Adhesive Tape

Scotch tape tool on white background Source:Getty

Richard G. Drew’s first tape invention was a wide paper tape with adhesive made for painters in 1923. This tape only had adhesive on the edges, not in the middle of the tape. Drew made an improved tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape in 1930. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.