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The Origin of Black History Month

In 2009, Black History Month has taken on a new meaning due to the election of President Barack Obama.

As Americans observe the accomplishments and rich traditions of the African American experience it is important to note that Black History has been celebrated annually since 1926, first as Negro History Week and later as Black History Month.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson is credited with launching Negro History Week to bring national attention to the contributions of Black people throughout American history.

He chose the second week of February for Negro History Week because it marks the birthdays of two men, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1914 he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. It later became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. A year later he founded the Journal of Negro History.

In appreciation of the many accomplishments of black inventors and their life changing inventions.

1. Sarah Goode Sarah Goode was the first African American woman to receive a U.S. patent in 1885 for a cabinet bed. Sarah Goode was the owner of a Chicago furniture store.

2. Miriam Benjamin was the second black woman to receive a patent for an invention she called a Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels.

3. Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist from New York, but living in Los Angeles when she received her patent, became the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. A method for removing cataract lenses, transformed eye surgery, using a laser device making the procedure more accurate.

4. The first video home security system was patented in 1969 to Marie Brown. The system used television surveillance.

5. Jack Johnson, the world's first African American heavyweight champion patented a wrench in 1922.

6. Lewis Latimer was the only African American member of the twenty-four "Edison Pioneers", Thomas Edison's engineering division of the Edison Company. Latimer also co-authored a book on electricity published in 1890 called, "Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System." He invented the water closet for railroad cars, an electric lamp with an inexpensive carbon filament and a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs. Latimer drafted the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell's patent application for the telephone.

7. Jerry Shelby, NASA engineer, invented an engine protection system for recoverable rocket booster and received U.S. and granted a patent on 1994. Its purpose is to propel an associated space vehicle to at least a desired first stage of travel. Shelby designed a rocket booster with improved protection for the purpose of making it reusable. Boosters fall back to earth after giving a space vehicle its boost into space.

8. In 1968, Rufus Stokes was granted a patent on an air-purification device to reduce the gas and ash emissions of furnace and power plant smokestack emissions.

9. Frederick McKinley Jones was one of the most prolific Black inventors ever. Frederick Jones patented more than sixty inventions, however, he is best known for inventing an automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks in 1935 (a roof-mounted cooling device). Jones was the first person to invent a practical, mechanical refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars, which eliminated the risk of food spoilage during long-distance shipping trips.


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