Black History Fun Fact Friday: Inventions

Welcome back to another episode of Black History Fun Fact Friday. I know I know, the sun will be setting soon but, better late than never right? 🙂 Tonight we’ll be looking at: 12 Black Inventors You May Not Know. I was surprised to find that many of them either died recently (2000-) or are still alive. Enjoy:

1. Lewis Latimer (1848 – 1928)

Lewis Latimer (1848 – 1928)
Lewis Latimer (1848 – 1928)

What He Invented: The Carbon Filament For The Light Bulb.
Why It’s Important: Latimer is one of the greatest inventors of all time. Latimer helped make the light bulb a common feature in households. In 1881, he received a patent for inventing a method of producing carbon filaments, which made the bulbs longer-lasting, more efficient and cheaper.
In 1876, he worked with Alexander Graham Bell to draft the drawings required for the patent of Bell’s telephone.

2. Patricia Bath (1942-Present)

Patricia Bath

What She Invented: The Cataract Laserphaco Probe.
Why It’s Important: Her device used an innovative method of removing cataract lenses with a laser, which was more accurate than the drill-like instruments that were in common use at the time. The New York ophthalmologist’s invention, patented in 1988, helped save the eyesight of millions and even restored sight to people who had been blind for more than 30 years.

3. Otis Boykin (1920 -1982)

Otis Boykin

What He Invented: The Artificial Heart Pacemaker Control Unit.
Why It’s Important: Although there were variations to the pacemaker before Boykin’s invention, the modern-day pacemaker would not exist without his work. Boykin,  also sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor would later be used in radios and televisions.

4. Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999)

Marie Van Brittan Brown
Marie Van Brittan Brown

What She Invented: Closed-Circuit Television Security

Why Its Important: Marie Van Brittan Brown received a patent in 1969, making her the first person to develop a patent for closed- circuit television security. Brown’s system was designed with four peepholes and a motorized camera that could slide up and down to look at each one. Her invention became the framework for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, crime prevention and traffic monitoring.

5. Granville T. Woods (1856-1910)

Granville T. Woods
Granville T. Woods

What He Invented: The Multiplex Telegraph.
Why It’s Important: The Multiplex Telegraph was a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains. His work assured a safer and better public transportation system for the cities of the United States.

6. Mildred Kenner (1924-2004)

Mary Kenner
Mary Kenner

What She invented: The Sanitary Belt

Why Its Important: Mildred Kenner joined her sister Mary Davidson in patenting many practical inventions. Neither of the sisters had any technical education, but that didn’t stop them from inventing the Sanitary Belt in 1956. Three years later, Kenner invented the mosture-resistant pocket for the belt. While disabled from multiple sclerosis, Kenner went on to invent The Walker and the toilet-tissue holder.

7. Gerald A. Lawson (1940 -2011)

Gerald A. Lawson
Gerald A. Lawson

What He Invented: The Modern Home-Video Gaming Console.
Why It’s Important: Anyone who owns a Playstation, Wii or Xbox should know Lawson’s name. He created the first home video-game system that used interchangeable cartridges, offering gamers a chance to play a variety of games and giving video-game makers a way to earn profits by selling individual games, a business model that exists today.

8. Sarah Goode (1855-1905)

Sarah Goode's Invention
Sarah Goode’s Invention

What She invented: The Folding Cabinet Bed

Why Its Important: Sarah Goode was an entrepreneur and inventor, who was the first African-American woman to receive a U.S. patent. Goode invented a folding cabinet bed which provided people who lived in small spaces to utilize their space efficiently. When the bed was folded up, it looked like a desk. The desk was fully functional, with spaces for storage. She received a patent for it on July 14, 1885.

9. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950)

Charles R. Drew
Charles R. Drew

What He Invented: The Blood Bank.
Why It’s Important: His research in the field of blood transfusions led to the development of improved techniques for blood storage. He applied his expert knowledge to the development of large-scale blood banks early in World War II. His invention allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.
He directed the blood plasma programs of the United States and Great Britain in World War II, but resigned after a ruling that the blood of African-Americans would be segregated.

10. Marc Hannah ( 1956-Present)

Marc Hannah
Marc Hannah

What He Invented: 3-D Graphics Technology Used in Films.
Why It’s Important: Anyone awed by the special effects in the films Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and The Abyss should thank Chicago-native Marc Hannah. The computer scientist is one of the founders, in 1982, of the software firm Silicon Graphics (now SGI), where the special-effects genius developed 3-D graphics technology that would be used in many Hollywood movies.

11. Frederick M. Jones (1892-1961)

Frederick Jones
Frederick Jones

What He Invented: Mobile Refrigeration
Why It’s Important: His invention allowed the transportation of perishable foods such as produce and meats, which changed eating habits across the country. Thermo King, the company he co-founded, became a leading manufacturer of refrigerated transportation. Jones also developed an air-conditioning unit for military field hospitals and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. Jones was awarded over 60 patents during his lifetime.

12. Alice Parker (1865- death date unknown)

Alice Parker's Invention
Alice Parker’s Invention

What She Invented: Central Heating

Why Its Important: In 1919, Alice Parker of Morristown, New Jersey, invented a new and improved gas heating furnace that provided central heating.



Thanks for stopping by Black History Fun Facts. Below is last week’s episode in case you missed it:

Week #8: Timbuktu


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I write to restore Black Historical Truth for the freedom of all people. Visit me online at and @yecheilyah on IG and Twitter.

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