Pioneering Black inventors we owe for transforming the world
In the Western world, history has often been whitewashed, failing to include Black people who have also been pioneers and changemakers in their fields.
There are many Black inventors, from the tools we may use on a daily basis, to things that are used in specialist industries – yet it is often unknown that the person behind these things is Black.
Black History Month is about celebrating the Black community, its culture, people and highlighting the history that is often swept to the side when it comes to Black people.
Here are the Black inventors who deserve to be celebrated:
Boone was an African-American inventor, best known for her patented improvements to the ironing board.
Boone was one of the very first African-American women to receive a patent in America.
Her improvements to the ironing board, originally patented in 1858, was officially patented on April 26, 1892.
Dr Onyema Ogbuagu
Dr Ogbuagu is an infectious diseases specialist who was principal investigator for Pfizer’s Covid vaccine clinical trials
He cares for patients who are affected by or at risk for HIV/AIDS, provides care for COVID-19 patients and leads Yale University’s clinical studies around COVID-19.
The doctor accredits his passion for medicine to his Nigerian upbringing.
He has said: “I trained in Nigeria, where you see lot of disease and suffering and late presentations, and you are working in a resource-limited space where you feel that if things were better, people would survive.”
Dr Thomas P Lecky
Jamaican born Dr Lecky is responsible for developing two new cattle breeds. These specific breeds were specially designed to thrive in Jamaica’s tropical conditions.
He travelled to Canada to study at McGill University in Montreal and to the University of Toronto. He returned to Jamaica in 1925 and noticed that whilst the cattle in Jamaica were resistant to disease, it was lacking in beef and milk production.
Lecky decided to change that and over two decades, he used the methods of selective breeding and his understanding of genetics to make a new breed called the Jamaica Hope, developed out of British Jersey with genes from the Holstein and the Indian Sahiwal.
Mary Van Brittan Brown
An African-American nurse, Brown made an early version of what we now know as home security systems, making an early security unit in her own home to help make her feel more at ease on her nights at home alone.
While her husband was away, she spent many nights at home alone in Queens, New York and felt unsafe with the high crime rates of crime in her neighbourhood.
In 1966, she created a security system that used a camera that could slide into and look through four peepholes in her front door. The camera’s view would appear on a monitor that she would be able to see in her home, meaning she could see anyone who was there.
Brown also added other features to this device, including a microphone to speak to anyone at the door, a button to unlock the door, and a button to contact the police.
Mary and her husband took out a patent for the system, which was awarded three years later.