Things black people invented; Changing the world

In the vibrant human innovation, the contributions of Black inventors stand as powerful threads, weaving resilience, brilliance, and determination into history. While many of these inventors faced unimaginable challenges due to racial discrimination, their legacies shine brightly, illuminating our everyday lives.

Early Pioneers

History brims with Black inventors whose names might not ring familiar but whose innovations have been transformative. From Benjamin Banneker, an autodidact who crafted a wooden clock in the 18th century, to Mary Kenner, who patented five inventions including the sanitary belt, these pioneers laid the groundwork for generations to follow.

Things black people invented in Health and Medicine

  • Dr. Charles Drew: The concept of blood banks might seem commonplace today, but in the 1940s, it was revolutionary. Dr. Drew’s pioneering work in blood storage and transfusion has saved countless lives.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath: Imagine a world where cataract patients didn’t have the Laserphaco Probe. Thanks to Dr. Bath’s brilliance, we don’t have to. Her invention has restored the sight of thousands, changing the field of ophthalmology forever.

Things black people invented: Everyday Items

  • Sarah E. Goode: Transforming furniture to save space, Goode’s folding cabinet bed was the precursor to the modern-day Murphy bed, combining utility with design.
  • Lonnie G. Johnson: Summer memories for many are incomplete without the Super Soaker. Johnson, originally a NASA engineer, brought joy to backyards worldwide with his invention.
  • Garrett Morgan: If you’ve ever stopped at a red light, you’ve experienced Morgan’s influence. His traffic light, along with his groundbreaking gas mask, has made daily life safer for millions.

Things black people invented in Technological Advancements

  • Dr. Mark Dean: Holding three of IBM’s nine original PC patents, Dr. Dean’s work has been instrumental in shaping the digital age.
  • Jerry Lawson: The realm of home gaming was forever transformed with Lawson’s Channel F console, paving the way for the video gaming industry’s multibillion-dollar evolution.

Things black people invented in Agriculture and Food

  • George Washington Carver: More than just the “peanut man”, Carver’s innovative techniques in crop rotation and his plethora of peanut-derived products revitalized Southern agriculture.
  • Norbert Rillieux: Sugar’s journey from cane to crystal was revolutionized by Rillieux’s multiple-effect evaporator, showcasing the sweet blend of ingenuity and practicality.

Things black people invented in Communications

  • Granville T. Woods: Dubbed the “Black Edison”, Woods had over 50 patents, with his Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph standing out, enabling moving trains to communicate, thus preventing numerous accidents.

Things black people invented in Beauty and Fashion

  • Madam C.J. Walker: Walker didn’t just create haircare products; she built an empire, becoming America’s first self-made female millionaire and changing the landscape of Black haircare.
  • Lyda Newman: Newman’s redesigned hairbrush allowed for easy cleaning and better ventilation, exemplifying the perfect blend of functionality and foresight.


Here’s a list of other notable Black inventors and a brief description of their inventions or contributions:

  1. Dr. Shirley Jackson: A theoretical physicist, her research led to developments in the touch-tone telephone, caller ID, and call waiting.
  2. Lewis Howard Latimer: Played a crucial role in the development of the electric light bulb, particularly in designing a more durable carbon filament.
  3. Jan Ernst Matzeliger: Invented the shoe-lasting machine, which revolutionized the shoe manufacturing industry.
  4. Marie Van Brittan Brown: Credited with inventing the first home security system and closed-circuit television.
  5. Frederick McKinley Jones: Invented the portable air conditioner, which later paved the way for the invention of refrigerated trucks.
  6. Dr. James E. West: Co-invented the foil electret microphone, used in most modern microphones today.
  7. Thomas L. Jennings: The first African American to receive a patent; he invented a dry-cleaning process.
  8. Alexander Miles: Improved the safety of elevators with automatic door designs.
  9. Philip Emeagwali: Made significant contributions to the field of computer science, leading to developments in the creation of the internet.
  10. Otis Boykin: Improved the technology for resistors and created a control unit for pacemakers, among other electrical devices.
  11. Valerie Thomas: Inventor of the illusion transmitter, a device that simulates a 3D projection.
  12. Ernest A. Finney Jr.: Invented a device to moisten the adhesive on envelopes and stamps.
  13. George Edward Alcorn Jr.: Known for inventing an imaging x-ray spectrometer, which has applications in space exploration.

This list is by no means exhaustive; there are many more Black inventors who have made valuable contributions to society. Recognizing and celebrating their achievements helps to paint a more complete picture of history and innovation.

Challenges and Triumphs

Amidst these tales of innovation lies the somber narrative of racial prejudice. Many Black inventors faced barriers – from societal biases to financial hurdles. Yet, they forged ahead, driven by passion and purpose. Their journeys, rife with both challenges and triumphs, serve as inspiring testimonies to human spirit and ingenuity.


From the screens we gaze at to the roads we traverse, the imprints of Black inventors are omnipresent, enriching our lives in countless ways. As we stand on the shoulders of these giants, it’s vital to continue recognizing, celebrating, and being inspired by the diverse tapestry of innovation. And now, dear readers, we turn the mic to you: Which of these inventors’ stories resonated with you? Were there any names you were surprised by or not mentioned? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s celebrate knowledge, together.

Old Soul
Old Soul

I love poetry and philosophy. My complex thought is constantly being woven and rewoven, as I encounter new experiences and learn new things. This ever-evolving network of thought not only guides my actions and perspectives but also fuels my passion for writing

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