If you had to come up with a list of American inventors, it would probably include people like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs. In other words, it would include a lot of very impressive thinkers who were conveniently born with the advantage of being white.But throughout our nation’s history, people of color have come up with tons of revolutionary ideas and inventions that transformed our economy and the way we live.
Keith Holmes, author of “Black Inventors, Crafting of 200 years of Success,” has spent years cataloging the accomplishments of these men and women, including Garrett A. Morgan, inventor of the 3-way traffic signal and a special mask that helps firefighters breath oxygen in burning buildings.
Morgan started at the bottom of the economic ladder—his parents were slaves. But according to his granddaughter, Sandra Morgan, that didn’t stop him from persistently trying to solve big problems in his community and beyond.
Here, Holmes and Morgan discuss the problem-solving prowess of America’s greatest Black innovators.