AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY

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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. 

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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   is believed to have been born a slave in Missouri in 1864, but devoted his entire life to research projects and inventions that changed the lives of many poor farmer.  Time Magazine dubbed him "Black Leonardo".  He and his brother were kidnapped as babies but were returned as orphans to their owners Moses and Susan Carver.  George was frail and sickly, so he spent most days helping Mrs. Susan Carver around the house, during which time she taught him to read and write.  He spent years travelling around the country attending different schools, but eventually ending up at the State Agricultural College at Ames, Iowa, to study agriculture.  Mr. Carver pioneered the use of peanuts in agriculture and his methods became instrumental during the Great Depression, where his advice allowed for better for production.  Over the years, he managed to manufacture hundreds of products from peanuts, including cheese, soap and milk, while also inventing around 100 products from sweet potatoes.  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.
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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
 (1942 - present)  was born in New York.  Her fater was an immigrant from Trinidad and both parents encouraged her academically.  After graduating from high school early, she received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from New Yourks' Hunter College in 1967.  Between 1970 and 1973 she served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University, becoming the first black person to do so.  She was the first African-American woman to receive a patent for a medical prupose  -  her Laserphaco Probe is used to treat 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.

Betty Harris  (1940 - present)  was born in Louisiana and spent her childhood on a farm with 11 siblings.  She was interested in Chemistry from a young age and studied at the Southern University and Atlanta Univeristy, which awarded her a BA and MA in science respectively.  Ms. Harris went on to earn her PhD from the University of New Mexico and began teaching chemistry and maths, before spending over 20 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked in the High Explosives Research and Development Department  (HER&D).  During her time at LANL, she worked in areas including hazardous waste treament and evvironmental restoration facilities contaminated with energetic materials such as propellants, gun propellants, and explosives.  She is now a noted expert in the chemistry of explosives.  Outside of the laboratory, Ms. Harris worked with the American Girl Scouts to develop a chemistry badge similar to the one the American Boy Scouts work for. 
Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, PH.D.   (1899 - 1975)  was born in Alabama as the eldest of six children.  His father, James Sumner Julian, was a slave and Percy grew up during the time of heightened racism in the US.  Among his childhood memories was finding a man lynched while walking in some woods near his home.  Julian became a research chemist and pioneered the chemical synthesis of medical drugs from plants, becoming the first to create the large-scale synthesis of mormones such as testosterone, steroids and progesterone.  He went on to start his own company, where he worked to reduce the cost of producing steroids, meaning more people could access them for medical problems.  Julian was only the second African American to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and was one of the first to receive a doctorate in chemistry.  He also, in 1935 developed physostigmine, a drug that is used to treat glaucoma and to enhance menory in patients with Alzheimer.

Mae Carol Jamison was the first African American women to travel in space when she went on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992.  She was born in Alabama to a maintenance supervisor father and a school teacher mother.  She moved to Chicago when she was three years old and became increasingly interested in science throughout her earlier education.  She graduated hight school in 1973 at the age of 16 and went on to study at Stanford University.  In 1981 she obtained a medical degree from Cornell Medical College and was hired by NASA as an astronaut in 1987.  She said her inspiration for joining eas the African American actress Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura in the TV Series Star Trek.  After leaving NASA in 1993, she becmae a professor at Cornell University and was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College.  She later founded her own company, BioSentient, and is looking to develop a device that monitors the nervous system.
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 FAMOUS DATES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

1618  -  The first Africans are brought to an English colony  -  Jamestown, Va.

1808  -  The U.S. Congress passes a law, Slave Trade Act of 1794, that prohibits the United States involvement in the slave trade.

1849  -  Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery.  She later returns to the South to help more than 300 slaves escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad.

1856  -  Wilberforce University, the first African-American private college, is founded.

1865  -  The
13th Amendment abolishes slavery

1868  -  The
14th Amendment makes African-Americans citizens.

1870  -  The
15th Amendment gives African-American men the right to vote.

1870  - 
Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African-American to be elected to the United States Senate 

1870  - 
Joseph Hayne Rainey is the first African-American elected to the United States House Representatives.

1963  -  The Civil Rights Movement reaches its climax with a massive march on Washington, D. C..  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

1964  - 
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, voting, and the use of public facilities.

1999  -  All 50 states legally recognize the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday for the first time.

2008  -  Barack Obama wins the election to become the first African-American president in U.S. History.

2012  -  Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term as the President of the United States.