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Most of Your Favorite Inventions Were Created by Black Inventors

Updated: Feb 03, 2022 13:32
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Black Inventors

Black inventors, like the folks featured here, have revolutionized nearly everything in our daily lives. From left to right: Madam C. J. Walker, Elijah McCoy, Garrett Morgan, Lewis Latimer, Betty W. Harris

How does the shortest month of the year do any justice to celebrate such a rich culture? It doesn’t, we just have to jam pack centuries of awesome people, ideas, moments, and inventions into 28 (sometimes 29) days. Speaking of inventions, many great minds are idolized during Black History Month, as they should be. Out of the thousands of amazing concepts, improvements, and tangible legacies that we’ve seen and undoubtedly will continue to see, here’s a quick list of the ones that everyone can enjoy and the Black inventors who created them.

Dry and Instant Coffee

Black inventors created instant coffee

Agricultural and farmer recipe genius, George Washington Carver, did not invent peanut butter, but he did make peanut cultivation and uses of peanuts much more efficient. Just as important, or even more for you immediate caffeine junkies, is his popularization of the modern coffee you buy in stores or have made by your local hipster.

Super Soaker

Black inventors created the super soaker

With a name as cool as Lonnie Johnson, you better invent something dope, and he did! If your childhood was sans Super Soaker I hope your parents are paying for your therapy. Since 1990, dozens of Super Soaker variations have been the catalyst to millions of pranks, punishments, and water wars. No wonder it was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2015.

Potato Chips

Black inventors created potato chips

This is America and if you don’t love a good potato chip, of any variety, you need to check yourself. For the millions of people who enjoy a nice greasy and salty handful or bowl of organic crunchiness, you can thank George ‘Potato Chip’ Crum. Why do you think they call them CRUMbs? (That’s not the real reason but it sounded cool)



James Edward Maceo West is credited with the patent for the first electric microphone. That’s a pretty impressive credit. Did you hear something through your phone, tv, radio, or computer? Do you want people to hear what you have to say, sing or, scream? You can thank Mr. West (no not Kanye, he owes James his props too) for bringing the foil electret mic to life.

Video Game Console

Fairchild Channel F

Nintendo, SEGA, Playstation, Atari and Xbox all have one thing in common. Basement dwelling virgins? Well yes, but more importantly, Jerry Lawson, the engineering godfather of swappable cartridge home arcade systems. Spawning from his never popularized invention and patent the world was given everything from the (Atari) 2600 to (Nintendo) 64.

Traffic Light

Traffic Light

Garrett Morgan created the modern day signal that tells us every damn day whether to stop, go and/or yield. Red lights annoy drivers and delight pedestrians, and vice versa for green lights. The one thing both foot and metal pedallers can be thankful for is that Mr. Morgan’s most notable invention has saved countless lives.

Automatic Transmission

automatic transmission

Let’s be honest, 20% of the U.S. population can successfully drive a stick shift. The keyword is successfully. For those who have no desire, need, or ability to manually shift through gears in their vehicle, you can thank Richard Spikes for automatic gear shifting device. Also, credit this man for the beer tap and turn signal but please don’t drink and drive in his honor.

Never take an invention or inventor for granted. If these folks, and many more African-Americans, hadn’t set out to change their industry, or even the world, life would be a lot different and more difficult. So next time you are able to dry your clothes, water your lawn, keep your food refrigerated, not die from open heart surgery, keep your house warm or any other of the thousand necessities, be thankful every February for these Black inventors. In fact, be thankful year round for these pioneers, geniuses, and philanthropists that changed the world no matter what society threw at them.

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Curtis Schabath

Curtis Schabath

Detroiter, dog dad, and down-to-earth dude. Living the creative lifestyle and crusading for quality causes all while adoring alliterations. You can trust 95% of what Curtis says and 100% of what he does (he's vegan and a volunteer after all). He can often be heard misquoting common idioms, his favorite; "Better safe than safari" - but he'll never misquote a rap lyric or movie quote from the 80s-00s.