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Black Inventions – Traffic Light, Gas Mask, Automatic Elevator Doors, First Open Heart Surgery

If you wanna be technical Greek mathematician, engineer and inventor, Archimedes, invented the very first elevator around 236 BC.  Since then the elevator design has undergone a few overhauls by various inventors through the centuries.   It went from carrying things, to a person, to people, and from one story, 50.  However one improvement has managed to stand the test of time.

Known as “the wealthiest colored man in the Northwest,”African American inventor Alexander Miles, made the ultimate improvement to the elevator.  In 1887 he created an automatic door system, that changed.  Not only did this invention make it safer to ride an elevator, but the modern creation is a modification we enjoy today.  Thanks to his ingenuity traveling from floor, to floor has never been easier.

Inventor and community leader, Garrett Morgan, experimented with a liquid that would prevent sewing machine needles from scorching fabric while in use.  By accident he discovered the same oil, could also straighten hair.  In 1905, Morgan made the liquid into a cream and opened the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Company to sell the new hair relaxer.  In 1910, Morgan invented the curved-tooth comb for hair straightening and black hair oil dye.

In 1916 Morgan became a hero after he rescued workers trapped in a tunnel in Cleveland, Ohio.  Workers in a water intake tunnel, became trapped 50 ft  beneath Lake Erie.  Thanks to his invention, the gas mask, Morgan was able to save their lives.  It wasn’t long before the U.S. Military came calling.   His mask had a hood to protect eyes from smoke and featuring a series of air tubes.  The tubes hung low to the ground to allow it’s wearer to breath cleaner air, while being in a smoke-filled room.

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In 1922 Morgan would invent the world’s most successful, life-saving devices of all time… the traffic light.  He was inspired to design one after witnessing several accidents, many fatal. Morgan was also a hero.  That’s not all he did.  In addition to everything else Morgan was the first African American in Cleveland to own an automobile.

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Daniel Hale Williams, was African American General Surgeon, who founded the first non-segregated hospital in the U.S.  Provident Hospital was the first African American owned and operated hospital in the country.  It is still in operation today!  He’s most noted for being the first doctor to do a successful open heart surgery, but he also performed the second documented successful pericardium surgery to repair a knife wound.

 

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