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How Garrett Morgan Marketed the Gas Mask and Traffic Light in the Face of Discrimination

Black inventors of the 19th and 20th century faced two major challenges. After successfully inventing a tool or product, they then had to overcome blatant racial discrimination from consumers. Garrett Morgan, one of the most successful African American inventors, held over five patents including ones for the gas mask and traffic light, according to Harvard’s Business History Review. He put a lot of effort into marketing and advertising his inventions and learned if he wanted them to garner success, he had to distance his identity from his invention in his advertisements. He used a public sponsor and surrogate to obtain his patents’ anonymously thus minimizing the chance of discrimination by consumers and increasing his financial gains. Morgan was born in 1877 to former slaves and was only formally educated to a sixth grade level. However, he was a natural born entrepreneur with a mind of a scientist. He made his first successful inventions at 16 years old but garnered widespread...

Abriana Walton

Feb 2, 2021