Black Inventions That Were Stolen.Throughout history, there have been numerous instances of black inventors whose contributions were overlooked, undervalued, or even stolen due to systemic racism and discrimination. Here are ten black inventions and innovations that were either stolen or received inadequate recognition:
Black Inventions That Were Stolen
- Sarah E. Goode (1855-1905): Sarah Goode, an African American businesswoman, invented the folding cabinet bed in 1885, which was a precursor to the modern Murphy bed. Despite her invention’s practicality and significance, she faced challenges in getting her idea recognized and patented.
- Lewis Latimer (1848-1928): Lewis Latimer was a prolific inventor and engineer who played a significant role in the development of the telephone and the incandescent light bulb. He worked closely with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, yet his contributions were often overshadowed or omitted from historical accounts.
- Granville T. Woods (1856-1910): Known as the “Black Edison,” Granville T. Woods held over 60 patents for electrical devices and inventions that improved railway safety, including the induction telegraph system. Despite his innovations, he faced numerous patent challenges and was often forced to sell or license his patents to larger companies.
- Elijah McCoy (1844-1929): Elijah McCoy, a mechanical engineer and inventor, developed a lubricating cup that automatically oiled machinery during operation. His invention was so successful that imitators emerged, leading to the popular phrase “the real McCoy” to distinguish his genuine product from inferior copies.
- Garrett Morgan (1877-1963): Garrett Morgan invented the three-position traffic signal in 1923, which included the “stop” and “go” signs, along with the caution warning in the middle. While his invention revolutionized traffic management, Morgan faced resistance due to racial prejudice.
- Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999): Marie Van Brittan Brown, along with her husband Albert Brown, invented the first home security system in 1966. Their invention included a camera, peephole, and a two-way communication system. Although their patent was approved, larger companies adopted similar technologies without proper acknowledgment.
- Lonnie G. Johnson (1949-present): Lonnie G. Johnson, an aerospace engineer, invented the Super Soaker water gun in 1982. The Super Soaker became a top-selling toy, yet Johnson received relatively little financial benefit compared to the profits made by the toy company that acquired his invention.
- Mark Dean (1957-present): Mark Dean is an electrical engineer who played a critical role in the development of the personal computer. He holds three out of nine original patents for the IBM Personal Computer, but his contributions were not widely recognized.
- Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919): While not an inventor in the traditional sense, Madam C.J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur, developed a line of hair care products for black women. She became one of the first female self-made millionaires in the United States, but her legacy was not always given the credit it deserved.
- Philip Emeagwali (1954-present): Philip Emeagwali, a Nigerian-American computer scientist, made significant contributions to the development of the internet and supercomputing. However, his achievements have not always received widespread recognition.
These examples demonstrate the historical and ongoing struggle black inventors have faced in having their contributions properly acknowledged, leading to a broader discussion on recognizing the achievements of inventors from diverse backgrounds.