What began as Negro History Week in 1926
launched by Dr. Carter G. Woodson has evolved into a 28, sometimes 29, day celebration
of the achievements and accomplishes in the lives of African Americans as Black History Month. Dr. Woodson, a historian interested
in education, chose the second week of February to recognize two men who greatly impacted the American black population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. African Americans have contributed much toward shaping America's
history, often against considerable odds. They served in the military, fighting and dying to defend the freedoms
and rights that America enjoyed. Yet, many of the same freedoms and rights these soldiers, saliors and marines
fought for......were denied. Many of the contributions to American
History by African Americans have been obscured by slavery attitudes and Jim Crow mentalities. During slavery, most slaves were denied formal education. In the
aftermath of various slave rebellions, many laws were passed in the South probibiting
slave literacy. Many 17th and 18th century black scientists and inventors went unrecognized, since they were considered
properity, somewhere on the scale of cattle. Therefore, they could not enter into contract with their owners or the
U.S. Government. Jo Anderson, one of Cyrus McCormick's
slaves, who is believed to have played a major role
in inventing the grain harvester, which McCormick gained the credit and fame. Many black inventors and scientists did receive some name recognition.
BLACK INVENTORS AND SCIENTISTS The "REAL McCOY" refers to an automatic "drip cup" lubricator
invented for machinery by Elijah McCoy, a black engineer in the the early 1870s.
Machinery buyers insisted on installing only "Real McCoys" lubricators in their new equipment. The "Jenny Coupler" an automatic device used to secure two railroad
cars by smiply bumping them together, was invented by Andrew Beard in 1897. Mr. Beard worked for the railroad
and watched as men, including himself, lost hands, arms, legs and at times their life by being cruched to death manually coupling
railroad cars. George Washington Carver was born a slave in 1864 and devoted his entire
life to research projects related to southern agriculture. His research produced 300 + different products using peanuts,
turning peanuts into a $200 million plus industry. Mr. Carver rarely patented his many discoveries, saying, "God
gave them to me. How can I sell them to someone else? Lloyd Augustus Hall revolutionized the food industry when he discovered curing salts for preserving and processing meats along with other food
preservatives. Mr. Hall graduated from East High School in Aurora, Illinois and Northwestern University. He obtained more than 100 registered patents for food product manufacturing and packaging. In 1923, Garrett Morgan developed an automatic stop sign to aid the movement of trafic. He sold the rights to this invention to General Electric
for $40,000.00. Other inventions of his included the gas mask (1914) and a sewing machine belt (1901). Frederick Jones held more than 60 patents, but refrigeration was his speciality. In 1935, he invented the first automatic refrigeration
system for long-haul trucks, which was later adopted by a variety of carriers, including ships and railroad cars. His
invention changed the food transporting industry. Granville T. Woods is known as the "Black Edison", because of his more than 60 patents. He was a Electrical Engineer, Mechanical
Engineer and inventor, of which one of the most important of his inventions was a telegraph machine that allowed moving trains
to communicate with one another. His machine also allowed trains to communicate with train stations, which greatly improved
railroad efficiency and safety. Most of his inventions centered on the electrical works of the railroad system.
AFRICAN AMERICAN HEALTH HEROES All of these heroes have each made huge contributions to the field of medicine
that have changed the health of people all over the world for better. What they all have in common is staggering intelligence,
focus, discipline and drive, all of which propelled them to do great things often against tremendous odds or in the midst
of adversity. Dr. Benjamin Carson, MD is a pioneering pediatric neurosurgeon. He first received fame in 1987 when he performed a ground breaking operation,
in which he successfully separated Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the head. A former failing student, Ben Carson was discouraged, alienated and troubled as a
youth. As a fifth grader, he had never read a book. After a pivotal moment in his sixth grade classroom, Carson
worked hard enought to earn a scholarship to Yale University. At age of 32, he became the youngest surgeon in the United States to be the director of pediatric surgery at John Hopkins. Dr. Patricia Bath, MD became the first African-American female physician to receive a patent for a medical invention. She invented the cataract
laserphacoprobe, a revolutionary medical instrument for removing Cataracts. Dr. Bath's invention changed the landscape
of eye surgery by employing a laser device, which made the cataract procedure both painless and much more accurate.
In 1975, she was the first black female surgeon to be appointed to the medical staff of the UCLA Medical Center. She is also the co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Phil Brooks received a patent for his invention of the first disposable syringe on April 9, 1974. Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, PH.D. was a chemist who in 1935 developed physostigmine, a drug that is used to treat glaucoma and to enhance menory in patients with Alzheimer. He was also successful in developing a number of other useful drugs.