Black inventions you never learned about in school

2/25/2014, 3:29 p.m.
Black History Month is a time when African-Americans can reflect on the many accomplishments of historic Black figures and their ...
Mark Dean, African-American inventor and computer engineer.

By Jordan Crawford

Black History Month is a time when African-Americans can reflect on the many accomplishments of historic Black figures and their contributions to American society, however, the spotlight often shines on the same few individuals. George Washington Carver and Madame C.J. Walker are two great inventors, but they were not the only ones. During the final remnants of our celebratory period, let’s acknowledge some not-so-well-known instances of African-American ingenuity.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams- Born in Pennsylvania, Williams attended medical school in Chicago, where he received his M.D. in 1883. He founded the Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1891, and performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893;

Charles Henry Turner- A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Turner received a B.S. in 1891 and M.S. in 1892 from the University of Cincinnati. He then earned a Ph.D. in 1907 from the University of Chicago. A noted authority on the behavior of insects, he was the first researcher to prove that insects can hear;

Emmett Chappelle- Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Chappelle earned a B.S. from the University of California and an M.S. from the University of Washington. He joined NASA in 1977 as a remote sensing scientist. Among Chappelle’s discoveries is a method of instantly detecting bacteria in water, which led to the improved diagnoses of urinary tract infections;

James West- West was born in 1931 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and studied physics at Temple University. Specializing in microphones, West developed the foil electret microphone in 1962, with Gerhard Sessler, which became the industry standard. Approximately 90 percent of microphones in use today are based on this invention and almost all telephones utilize it, as well as tape recorders, camcorders, baby monitors and hearing aids;

Aprille Ericsson- Born and raised in Brooklyn, N. Y., Ericsson was the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Ericsson has won many awards, including the 1997 “Women in Science and Engineering” award for the best female engineer in the federal government;

Thomas L. Jennings- A tailor in New York City, Jennings is credited with being the first African American to hold a U.S. patent. The patent, which was issued in 1821, was for a dry-cleaning process;

Granville T. Woods- Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, and later settled in Cincinnati. Largely self-educated, he was awarded more than 60 patents. One of his most important inventions was a telegraph that allowed moving trains to communicate with other trains and train stations, thus improving railway efficiency and safety;

Garrett Augustus Morgan- Born in Kentucky, Morgan invented a gas mask, patented in 1914, that was used to protect soldiers from chlorine fumes during World War I. Morgan also received a patent in 1923 for the first traffic signal that featured automated STOP and GO signs;

Frederick McKinley Jones- Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. An experienced mechanic, he invented a self-starting gas engine and a series of devices for movie projectors. More importantly, he invented the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks in 1935. Jones was awarded over 40 patents in the field of refrigeration;