African American Invention: Dismissed, Unrecognized And Sometimes Forgotten

By Gary Cogley Icon

Some of America's greatest inventions came from African American inventors - but you may not know that. With the subjective portrayal of the history of the US - along with a long-living bias in some people - recognition of African American invention is far from the mainstream.

Sure - you may be aware of some few of this inventor group - but I am sure that you (as so was I) are not aware of some of the monumental inventions offered to America by Black invention.

  1. George Washington Carver
    One of the most famous contributors to African American invention. Without him, some college students would starve! And P&J sandwiches would not be available for kids lunches. George Washington Carver helped save the Southern farmer by introducing the planting of peanuts (legumes) as a rotating crop to restore nutrients that the cash crops of tobacco and cotton sucked from the earth. When the farmers - who were happy with their increased yields - began to complain because they had too many peanuts and didn't know what to do with them - GWC came up with PEANUT BUTTER - and about 300 other uses for the peanut. The South was saved by a former slave.

  2. Garrett Morgan
    Another contributor to African American invention. He saved lives by inventing the gas mask, which was a staple in WWI - and the automatic stoplight, which saves lives on the american road.

  3. Elijah McCoy
    Though trained as an engineer, because of his color, he could only get a job on the railroad as a fireman/oilman. His job was to stoke the engine with coal - and manually lubricate various moving parts on the engine and train so it could continue to move. At the time, the train would have to stop every few miles to be lubricated or the parts would freeze.

    McCoy came up with the "lubricating cup" - an automatic lubricator that took the place of manual lubrication. Train companies loved it. So did others that tried to get in on the profits. McCoy had up to 60 imitators - that did not do as good a job as the McCoy lubricating cup. So train companies started demanding "the Real McCoy." The phrase continues to exist in American speech today.

These examples are of only three African American inventors - and, like others, they helped this country grow. A clear example that creativity, invention and intellect are not limited to a selected few; but rather, are inclusive of all human beings.

Gary J. Cogley, JD, after being a musician, a TV Producer/Director/Writer, and an entertainment and IP attorney, now writes about all kinds of gadgets, gizmos and inventions. He also gives tips and info on patents, and scams to watch out for. Get your gadget at:

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