Three Black Inventors to Know

Though Black inventors have had to face many social and legal barriers to be recognized for their work, they have still managed to make prolific contributions to society. Originally created for Black History Month, this template can be used year-round to help and share stories that matter.

Video Transcription: Three Black Inventors to Know

Innovation and invention are at the heart of America's development as a nation.

One of the first articles written in the US Constitution was the Patent Act of 1790. This piece of legislation gave inventors exclusive rights to their inventions and revolutionized patent systems globally.

Back home, however, Black inventors face harsh prejudice in America's patent system. And legal barriers often barred black people from patenting their work. Those inventions still managed to make prolific contributions to society, and their impact continues to this day.

Here are three Black inventors you might not have heard of in the early 1800s.

Benjamin Bradley built a steam engine model large enough to drive the first steam-powered warship at 16 knots because he was under slavery at the time. He was not able to get a patent for his invention, but he was able to sell the model with the money he earned. He purchased his freedom.

After a series of events left Marie Van Britton Brown feeling uneasy in her neighborhood, she figured out a way to feel safer in her home. Brown created the first home security system. It was a closed-circuit security system that monitored visitors through a camera and included a panic button that called the police immediately. Brown filed for the patent in 1966, but she wasn't awarded the patent until three years later.

After witnessing a terrible accident at a manual stop-and-go traffic signal, Garrett Morgan realized that there needed to be an interim period between the switch of the lights. Morgan created a traffic light that provided an interval of time for cars to clear an intersection, something we now know as a yellow light. In November of 1923, Garrett Morgan was awarded a patent for the first three-position traffic signal, an important innovation on insufficient models of the day,

Black inventors have created things that have changed our everyday lives without due credit. Let's celebrate their part in the technological and social advancements we enjoy today.

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