Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It started out as Negro History Week celebrated the second week in February, created by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1926. It became Black History Month in 1970.
Generally, this month has been set aside to honor the contributions that Black people have made to society. Some white people have been known to say that Black people have not contributed anything to the advancement of the world, and this is patently ludicrous. Unfortunately, perception is often taken as reality. The truth is, we very often get exactly what we are looking for, and if our belief is that Blacks have not contributed to world advancement, that is what we’ll observe. This, however, is an extremely erroneous notion as you shall soon see!
One of the first things that must be mentioned is that Black History did not begin with slavery! Black people are NOT inherently slaves; we are people who became enslaved during the process of conquer and divide. Our history goes back to the beginning of the very fabric of time, and works our ancestors created are at the very foundation of society. Today this is no different; the achievements of Black people can be seen in every field of endeavor. Not only are we represented, we EXCEL. This is proof positive of the genius that we possess.
The term white supremacy has been on the ascendant of societal conversations lately. This is because the last presidential administration brought these ideas to the forefront. White supremacists have been emboldened because they felt they had an advocate in the White House. In hindsight, they apparently did. The chief point is, however, that a group that is secure in itself would not have to rely on telling us how supreme they are.
With this said, let’s focus on just a few of the contributions that Black people have made to American society. Henry Brown, 1832, invented the fire safe; Marie Van Brittan Brown, 1922-1999, invented the home security system; John Albert Burr, 1800s, rotary blade lawn mower; George Edward Alcorn, Jr; 1940, invented a method of fabricating an image-ray spectrometer; Janet Bashen, 1957, first African American to receive a patent for a web-based software invention, LinkLine, an Equal Employment Opportunity case management and tracking software; Patricia Bath; 1942-2019, inventions related to cataract surgery including the Laserphaco Probe, which revolutionized industry in the 1980s, and an ultrasound technique for treatment; and Earl S. Bell, 1977, invented chair with sliding skin (2004) and the quantitative display apparatus (2005).
Others include Phil Brooks, the disposable syringe; R.A. Butler, train alarm; George Carruthers, radiation detector; George Cook; automatic fishing reel; John L. Love, pencil sharpener; Hugh Macdonald, rocket catapult; Tom J. Marshall, fire extinguisher; Garrett Morgan, gas mask; W.B. Purvis, fountain pen; Henry Sampson, cellular phone; J. W. Smith, lawn sprinkler; Osbourn Dorsey, doorknob and door stop; Willis Johnson, eggbeater; and Frederick M. Jones, internal combustion engine.
Additionally, John Standard, refrigerator; Paul E. Williams, helicopter; Granville T. Woods, roller coaster; Dr. Charles Drew, blood plasma; Joseph N. Jackson, video commander; Mark E. Dean, helped develop the first color computer monitor; Otis Boykin, pacemaker and 25 other patents including burglar-proof cash register; Lonnie G. Johnson, Super Soaker and Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter; Marian Croak, major developments in Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) with 135 patents completed and another 100 under review; Philip Emeagwali, in the 1980s created the world’s fastest computer; and Lisa Gelobter, Shockwave (genesis of animation on the web-like GIF technology), online video.
These are just a few of the Black people who have used their genius to make important contributions to society. Our youth need to know about them. They must understand that we are, in fact, whatever we want to be, and we do not have to limit ourselves to what others think of us. We control the narrative! A Luta Continua.