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Black inventors

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Pyer Moss Couture Show Pays Homage To Black Inventors

Black excellence was on full display this weekend as Kerby Jean-R aymond, the first Black American designer to present at Paris Haute Couture Week , showcased the  Pyer Moss Fall 2021 Couture Collection at the estate of the late Madam C.J. Walker . AfroTech was invited to the Villa Lewaro to witness this historic event and it was nothing short of breathtaking. The ambiance was set from the minute guests arrived. With an all-Black live band decked out in all-white attire, it was as if you walked into a Harlem Renaissance party set in the digital age. However, the most jaw-dropping moment of all was the fashion. Embed from Getty Images   The Pyer Moss Fall Couture Show paid homage to Black inventors in the most ingenious way.  As the show began, models were met with gasps and awe as they walked the runway outfitted in garments resembling peanut butter (George Washington Carver), a traffic light (Garrett Morgan, 1923), a mop (Thomas W. Steward, 1863), a hot comb (Madam C.J. Walker), a...

Stephanie Ogbogu

Jul 12, 2021

Once A Baby "Thrown Away" At A Dumpster, Freddie Figgers Beat All Odds To Become A Millionaire Tech Inventor

Life’s circumstances don’t have to be the defining point in your life. Freddie Figgers is a testament to this after finding out at the age of eight that his biological mother had abandoned him as a newborn next to a dumpster, reports BBC News . “Listen I’m going to shoot it to you straight, Fred. Your biological mother, she threw you away, and me and Betty Mae, we didn’t want to send you through foster care and we adopted you, and you’re my son,” Freddie recalls his father revealing to him. After the news that he had been discovered by his adopted parents near a dumpster, he shares the thoughts that ran through his mind. “When he told me that, I was like, ‘OK I’m trash,’ and I felt unwanted,” said Freddie. “But he grabbed my should and he said, ‘Listen, don’t you ever let that both you.'” Thankfully, Freddie continued to persevere, although the circumstances of his adoption continued to follow him throughout his youth. “Kids used to bully me and call me, ‘Dumpster baby,’ ‘Trash can...

Shanique Yates

Jun 7, 2021

Meet Alexander Miles, the Black Inventor Who Was Once Minnesota's Wealthiest Businessman

Initially, elevators were manual. The doors had to be opened and closed by passengers or elevator operators, a feature that came with a number of associated safety risks. The elevators we use today have automatic doors thanks to Alexander Miles, an African American inventor who received a patent for his invention in 1887, according to BlackPast. Alexander Miles was born in 1838 in Duluth, Minnesota. Before his work on elevator door mechanisms, Alexander Miles found success as a barber and real estate developer. With a $500,000 net worth, he was recognized as the wealthiest Black man in Minnesota in the local Minneapolis paper Star Tribune — opening a real estate office, building a brownstone, formulating hair products, and becoming the first Black member of Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The ups and downs of business is what led to Alexander Miles’ most notable accomplishment. Inspired by an elevator ride with his daughter in which the doors remained open as the car traveled through...

Abriana Walton

Feb 26, 2021

Get to Know Otis Boykin, the Inventor Behind the Tech Used in Pacemakers and Cardiac Rhythm Devices

Many people in medtech credit inventor Earl E. Bakken as the creator of pacemakers and cardiac rhythm devices, but without the technology innovated by American inventor Otis Boykin those inventions would fail to exist today. Otis Frank Boykin, a Dallas native and electronic inventor, is the individual responsible for inventing the wire precision resistor — a type of technology that “enabled manufacturers to accurately designate a value of resistance for an individual piece of wire in electronic equipment,” Black Past reports. Before pursuing a life-long career as an inventor, Boykin attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he graduated from in 1941, Black Inventor notes. He later took a job as a laboratory assistant with the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation in Chicago, Illinois and left shortly after to start his own company, Boykin-Fruth Inc. At the same time, he also decided to go back to school and pursue his graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of...

Njera Perkins

Feb 24, 2021

Meet Marie Van Brittan Brown, the Nurse Turned Inventor Behind the First Home Security System

Home security systems today use some of the most advanced surveillance technology known to man, and to think they didn’t come to exist until the late 1960s. Thanks to inventor Marie Van Brittan Brown, the idea for a home surveillance device transformed into building the foundation for what we now consider our modern-day security systems. Brown — who’s also credited for inventing the first closed circuit television — pioneered the very first first home security system and filed the patent that has influenced the kind of security technology installed in millions of today’s single-family homes, apartment buildings, and office buildings for small businesses around the world. According to Face2Face Africa, Brown took an unconventional path as an inventor. In fact, she began her professional career as a nurse who worked odd hours outside of the traditional 9-5 job. Her husband Albert Brown also worked many late nights away from home as an electronics technician. Brown often worried about...

Njera Perkins

Feb 18, 2021

Thanks to Lewis Howard Latimer, the Lightbulb is a Shining Symbol of Innovation Today

The son of two escaped slaves from Virginia, Lewis Howard Latimer was raised in Massachusetts. Latimer’s father was found by his owner and tried, though he was eventually allowed to purchase his freedom in Massachusetts. However, the outcome of the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford U.S. Supreme Court case, which held that slaves must be freed from the state in which they were enslaved to be free, caused the elder Latimer to fear for his safety. His father fled to protect his family, and Lewis Latimer and his family split up, with the male children living on a farm and his sisters staying with a family friend. At 16-years-old, Latimer joined the Navy for two years, and after receiving an honorable discharge, he went to work at a patent law firm, eventually becoming a draftsman. In 1873, Latimer married Mary Wilson Lewis; they later had two daughters. A year after his marriage Latimer, co-patented a new toilet system for railroad trains. Two years later, he was hired directly by Alexander...

AfroTech

Feb 12, 2021

How Percy Lavon Julian Became the First Black Chemist Inducted Into the National Academy of Sciences

You may not have heard of Percy Lavon Julian, but chances are you’ve used a product his groundbreaking research was responsible for. Julian was a twentieth-century research chemist whose work in chemical synthesis laid the groundwork for synthesizing estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone used to treat those with hormone deficiencies. He also developed process improvements in the production of cortisone, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and corticosteroids used to treat various illnesses. Despite his substantial accomplishments, Julian faced considerable racism throughout his career. Born in 1899 to a postal worker, James Julian, and a schoolteacher, Elizabeth Adams in Montgomery, Alabama, the younger Julian and his five siblings were steered toward education at a young age. However, upon attending DePauw University in Indiana, Julian could not live in the dormitory at his own college due to segregation. In fact, it took days for him to find a place to eat. Nevertheless, he...

AfroTech

Feb 12, 2021

Meet Valerie Thomas, the NASA Scientist Who Invented and Patented the Illusion Transmitter

Valerie Thomas is a retired scientist and inventor known for her contributions to aerospace engineering at NASA and her patented Illusion Transmitter. Thomas was born in Maryland in 1943. According to Biography, Thomas was interested in science as a child. However, as a young woman raised within the social constructs of the 1950s, she was unable to explore her interests and talents until she left for college. As a student at Morgan State University, she was one of only two women to major in physics, according to Biography. Thomas excelled in her studies and was hired into NASA upon her graduation. While at NASA, Thomas helped develop the technology behind the first satellite that allowed images to be sent to Earth from space as a part of the Landsat program. She became internationally known as an expert contact for Landsat data, according to NASA.gov. Thomas held several positions within NASA before her retirement in 1995. She led a team of 50 scientists for the Large Area Crop...

Abriana Walton

Feb 2, 2021

3 African Tech Inventions Created to Fight COVID-19

On Feb. 14, 2020, Africa recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case in Egypt. According to the World Health Organization (WHO ), the virus reached the continent via travelers from Asia, Europe, and the U.S. As of last week, WHO reports that cases in Africa have risen to over 30,000 with nearly 1,400 deaths. While some doctors saw Africa as nothing more than a testing lab for COVID-19 vaccines, citizens of Africa have honed their intelligence and innovation to create inventions that aid in the reduction of the virus within their continent. Check out these three Africa-based inventions that are contributing to COVID-19 solutions. RESPIRE-19 Portable Ventilator According to Face2Face Africa , Usman Dalhatu, a 20-year-old mechanical engineer student at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, invented and built a local ventilator. With the help of his partners, Dr. Yunusa Muhammad Garba of the Human Anatomy Department, Gombe State University, and Aliyu Hassan, a graduate of Mechatronics...

Devin Crudup

Apr 29, 2020