Garrett Augustus Morgan

Garrett Morgan

Garrett A. Morgan (1875-1963), inventor;  born in Paris, Tenn.

Morgan developed his first invention, a belt fastener for sewing machines, in 1901, and he sold it for $150. In 1914 he won the First Grand Prize gold medal at the Second International Exposition of Sanitation and Safety for his breathing helmet and smoke protector (prototype to the gas mask).

In 1916 he demonstrated the use of this device in the rescue operation following an explosion in a tunnel at the Cleveland Waqterworks that trapped many men below Lake Erie. In 1923, Morgan developed an automatic stop sign to aid the movement of traffic, selling the rights to this invention to General Electric for $40,000.

At the Emancipation Centennial Celebration in Chicago, Illinois, in August 1963, Morgan was nationally recognized. Although in ill-health, and nearly blind, he continued to work on his inventions; one of his last was a self-extinguishing cigarette, which employed a small plastic pellet filled with water, placed just before the filter.

Theodore S. Wright

Theodore S. Wright

Theodore S. Wright

Theodore S. Wright (1797-1847) was an African-American abolitionist and minister who was active in New York City, where he led the First Colored Presbyterian Church as its second pastor. He was the first African American to attend Princeton Theological Seminary (and any United States theological seminary), from which he graduated in 1829. In 1833 he was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and served on its executive committee until 1840.

Theodore Sedgwick Wright was born about 1797 to free parents. He is believed to have moved into New York City with his family, where he attended the African Free School.[1] With the aid of Governor DeWitt Clinton and Arthur Tappan of the New York Manumission Society, and men from Princeton Theological Seminary, Wright was aided in his studies at the graduate seminary. In 1829 he was the first African American to graduate from there, and the first to complete theological studies at a seminary in the United States.

Before 1833, Wright was called as the second minister of New York’s First Colored Presbyterian Church and served there the rest of his life. (It was later known as Shiloh Presbyterian Church and is now St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem.) He followed the founder, Samuel Cornish.  Continue reading

Ernest J. Jamieson

During his tenure at the Cities Service Oil Co. in the late ’60s, Ernest J. Jamieson patented four inventions on the improvement of current gasoline compositions. One invention improved hydrocarbon fuel compositions for use in internal combustion engines by adding a detergent that prevents icing and corrosion.

Another invention improved a hydrocarbon fuel composition by adding a X hydrocarbylacid phosphate salt that reduced icing in the carburetor and improved water tolerance, thus reducing rust and hydrocarbon content in the exhaust.

J. Ernest Wilkins Jr.

J. Ernest Wilkins Jr

Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. (November 27, 1923 – May 1, 2011) was an African American nuclear scientist and mathematician, who gained first fame on entering the University of Chicago at age 13, becoming its youngest ever student. His intelligence led to him being referred to as a “negro genius” in the media.

As part of a widely varied and notable career, Wilkins contributed to the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. He also gained fame working in and conducting nuclear physics research in both academia and industry. He wrote numerous scientific papers, served in various important posts, earned several significant awards and helped recruit minority students into the sciences.

During his studies and various careers he was not untouched by the prevalent racism that existed for much of his life.

Charles Richard Drew

Illustration of Drew by Charles Alston in the collection of the National Archives

Charles Richard Drew (3 June 1904 – 1 April 1950) was an American physician, surgeon and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces.

The research and development aspect of his blood storage work is disputed. As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, an action which cost him his job. In 1943, Drew’s distinction in his profession was recognized when he became the first black surgeon selected to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

Drew’s athletic achievements helped win him a scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts and he graduated in 1926. An outstanding athlete at Amherst, Drew also joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Continue reading

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