Black Inventors

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DID YOU KNOW… that an African American man named Lewis Latimer who worked with Thomas Edison and
Alexander Graham Bell drew up the plans for Bell’s first telephone?

If you did, you are probably among the fortunate few who possess such knowledge. It is a fact that has not
been well publicized. There are countless inventions by African Americans and they cover everything from
food processing to electrical technology. The inventions by African Americans point out the contributions
that African Americans have made to the comfort and advancement of mankind. The following are some
inventions by African Americans.

America’s Hi-Tech “Invisible Man”

Frederick Jones contributed to the invention of the air conditioner unit and the automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks.

Sarah Boone contributed to the invention of the ironing board.

Jan Matzeliger contributed to the invention of the shoe-lasting machine (for attaching soles on shoes in Lynn, Mass. His invention revolutionized the shoe industry.

Alexander Miles contributed to the invention of major improvements to the elevator.

Dr. Charles Drew contributed to the invention of a way to store blood and then created the first blood bank.

M.A. Cherry contributed to the invention of the tricycle.

Major Robert H. Lawrence was the first African American astronaut chosen to make a journey to the moon.
He had a doctoral degree in Chemistry and would have made one of the first lunar trips, but he died in the
crash of an Air Force F-104 jet at Edwards Air Force Base, CA in 1968.

Ernest E. Just was the first biologist to receive the Springarn Medal. He received distinction in his field
through his research on egg fertilization and the functioning of cells.

Harold D. West was the first person to synthesize the amino acid threonine in the laboratory.

Dr. William Hinton devised a test to determine syphilis.

Andrew Bryan was the first African American pastor, ordained in 1788.

Constance B. Motley was the first African American female appointed as a Federal Judge in 1966.

Barbara Watson Federal was the first African American and first female to serve as Asst. Secretary of State.
She held her post in 1974.

Bernice Gaines Hughes was the first African American female to obtain the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Alonzo Pietro (known as “il Negro”) was one of Columbus’ navigators on his first voyage to America in 1492.

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