February 1st kicks off the beginning of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the many contributions and successes of African-Americans. Throughout the month, Weekend Express will be sharing some important milestones and fun facts about influential black figures, inventors and barrier breakers not only on air, but right here on our blog, too!
Did you know without the inventors listed below, your favorite sandwich (peanut butter and jelly), the Super Soaker and even the stop light wouldn't be possible?
- Kiss your PB & J sandwiches goodbye, because without George Washington Carver-- those sandwiches would just be jelly-filled. Born a slave, Carver went on to develop several uses for the peanut (including soap, mayonnaise and adhesive) and 400 plant products according to Scholastic!
- Next time you sit in a foldable chair, think of inventor Nathaniel Alexander. He designed the chair to be used for large gatherings at places like schools and churches.
- Thinking about corrective or cataracts eye surgery? You owe Dr. Patricia. E. Bath a big thanks! Bath was not only the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. She developed an eye surgery that utilizes laser devices to make incisions more precise.
- In 1992, Mae C. Jemison became the first female African-American space traveler in the United States, according to NASA.
- Ever print something off your laptop, computer or smart phone? IBM computer engineer Mark E. Dean is the mastermind behind the technology that lets you do that!
- Think you could invent an improved sewing machine, but also the first traffic light and WWI gas mask? Garrett Morgan was a man of many skills and the inventor behind all of those!
The list continues with more incredibly talented black inventors: Dr. Charles Drew (the doctor behind the blood bank), Wallace Amos (the baker behind Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies); Lonnie G. Johnson (the man behind the Super Soaker water gun) and Dr. Shirley Jackson (the female scientist behind fiber optics cables and caller ID).
Other notable firsts by African-Americans:
- 1909: W.E.B Du Bois formed the National Advancement of Colored People Organization (NAACP)
- 1947: Jackie Robinson became the first MLB player for the Brooklyn Dodgers
- 1954: The Supreme Court rules on Brown versus Board of Education, deeming segregation in public school unconstitutional
- 1963: Civil Rights activist and leader Martin Luther King, Jr. makes his now famous "I Have a Dream" speech