For many people in America, Black History Month is an eagerly anticipated celebration of history and culture. Black-Patents.com salutes Black History Month 2021 and all individuals regardless of age, race, gender or religion who help make diversity, equity and inclusion central to our lives both locally and internationally.
As we remember the strides and accomplishments of black freedom fighters: Harriet Tubman; civil-right leaders; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks - to name a few- let us also tip our hats to black inventors, such as Charles R. Drew (Plasma-Blood Banks), Lewis H. Latimer (Electric Lamp) and Patricia Bath (Laser Surgical Device for Cataracts. We also salute a new era of inventors: Bishop Curry V, who invented a device to prevent Hot Car Deaths; the Association Of Women Inventors And Entrepreneurs "AOWIE"; and Dr. Hadiyah Green, a female physicists who has an invention to kill cancer cells.
There are a plethora of black inventions that we use daily all around the world. Black inventors developed new creations and made improvements to previous inventions making them more user-friendly and, in some cases, more technologically advanced. Even with these innovations, there were challenges within the patent justice system- that is, if you were a black inventor. Was this intentional?
Overview - U.S. Patents - How Did Black Inventors Fit In?
Colonies and states crafted and maintained early patent laws. In 1641, the first American patent granted in Massachusetts was to Samuel Watson for a process of making salt. The first U.S. Federal Patent Law was the Patent Act of 1790. It was designed to protect patents' rights, promote and generate new industries. However, patent applications from slaves and free blacks were denied merely because they were black. If a black inventor partnered with a white man, some of those black inventors benefitted financially but had no patent protections.
Thomas L. Jennings (1791–1856) was the first African-American to be granted a patent on March 03, 1821, (U.S. patent 3306x). Jennings’s patent was for a dry cleaning process called “dry scouring”, which would go on to make modern-day dry cleaning possible. Several slave owners sidestepped the laws, manufactured, sold and profited immensely from black slaves’ inventions until those inventions were cannibalized by competitors. In 1861, patent rights were finally extended to slaves and free blacks.
It’s New Day
Just think, what would golf be like without the Golf Tee invented by George F. Grant? Thanks to William H. Richardson, the Child Carriage, aka the Baby Stroller, enabled the carriage to maneuver in multiple directions.
Can you imagine life without an AC unit on hot summer days and nights? Thanks to Henry M. Jones, we can enjoy a cool stream of air at will. The Home Security and Surveillance System was invented by Marie Van Brittan Brown, a black nurse. Other patent improvements like the Lawn Mower, invented by John A. Burr and the Tricycle, envisioned by Matthew A. Cherry are more inventions made by black men and women inventors who helped and continue to shape everyday lives, globally.
There will be Haters
Some people will argue that several patented inventions on Black-Patents.com were not invented by a black person first. That’s not Black-Patents.com's position or debate. Historical documents and filed U.S. patents are serving as evidence and are enough to warrant validation, inclusion, and celebration. Don't forget, because a black inventor was not the first to patent, didn’t always mean they were not the first to invent. But herein lies the beauty of it all — we’re about to get deep.
Let's get this out the way
Blacks have various melanin pigmentations, from light-yellow to dark-brown skin completions. Human archaeologist and scholars have proven black people occupied earth first, and came from Africa. For centuries racial hatred has been the main divisive tool used to create separatism because of skin color and complexions, even within tribes and clans. No matter how much proof is provided, there will be those who refuse to believe facts and history because of their racist superiority complex. As we pray for those who continue to hate, let us focus on building consciousness and a mindset of truth and togetherness.