Black inventors have contributed necessities such as the gas mask, open heart surgery, truck refrigeration and beauty products. Probably the most famous black inventor was George Washington Carver, an agricultural scientist who developed hundreds of uses for the peanut, including milk, cheese and soap.Continue Reading
Garrett Morgan invented several products in the early 20th century that are still relevant today. While working as a tailor, Morgan developed a sewing needle lubricant that soon also became the first hair straightener for humans. Soon after, Morgan invented the safety hood, a mask allowing firefighters to breathe smoke-free air. It later became known as a gas mask, used in warfare and other dangerous activities.
Madam C.J. Walker, the daughter of former slaves, developed hair care products for black women in the late 19th century. In a market with barely any beauty products for black people, her business flourished and she was successful among African-Americans, Latin Americans and Caribbeans.
Charles Drew was a black student of medicine in the 1920s and 1930s. While researching blood, Drew developed a technique for preserving plasma known as plasma banking. Plasma storage and transfusions are still in use today, as whole blood transfusions are sometimes unnecessary or impossible.
Daniel Hale Williams was another black medical professional who pioneered a lifesaving technique: open-heart surgery. In the late 19th century, Williams opened the chest cavity of a man who had been stabbed, a procedure that was previously associated with certain infection and death. He then repaired the man's pericardium, and the man survived. The procedures that Williams used were later standardized into operating practice among American surgeons.Learn more about Modern History