Facts About African American Inventors   Leave a comment


During slavery, most black slaves were denied formal education and in fact many laws were passed in the South prohibiting slave literacy in the aftermath of various slave rebellions. Even free blacks in the century before and after the Civil War were limited in their access to mainstream, quality education and vocational training.This limited education and training meant that, for the most part, blacks were shut out of professional occupations and confined to working in industries deemed acceptable for them, such as domestic services, some manual trades, and agriculture. Nevertheless a small number of exceptionally talented blacks were able to obtain an education and, through their life’s work, make significant contributions to American life.Scientists

Two early African-American scientists, namely mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker and agricultural chemist George Washington Carver, have become legendary for their intellect and ingenuity.

Born free in Maryland, Banneker was largely self-taught. He constructed the first striking clock to be made in America, helped survey the boundaries for Washington, D.C., and published an almanac, which he compiled based on his own astronomical observations and calculations.

Carver was born into slavery at the very end of the Civil War. He attended Iowa State College of Agriculture, where he received degrees in agricultural science. During his career as a researcher and educator, he advocated innovative agricultural methods and developed hundreds of applications for certain agricultural products, such as the peanut.


Born free in Maryland, Banneker was largely self-taught. He constructed the first striking clock to be made in America, helped survey the boundaries for Washington, D.C., and published an almanac


 

Although Banneker and Carver are probably the best-known black scientists, they were not the only ones. The achievements of a selection of pioneering black scientists, including Banneker and Carver, are outlined in the list of African American Scientists below.

Inventors

Unlike black slaves, free blacks prior to the Civil War were entitled to receive patents for their inventions. Though, again, because blacks lacked educational and vocational opportunities, few had the necessary skills or experience to develop their inventive ideas or patent them.

Despite these constraints, there were a number of successful black inventors whose inventions proved useful and important. Thomas Jennings, the first known African American to hold a patent, used the money he earned from his invention to fund abolitionist causes.

Some slaves, who were skilled craftsmen, did create devices or techniques that benefited their masters’ enterprises. According to a decision by the federal government in 1858, though, neither the slave nor the slave owner could claim ownership rights to such an invention. In 1870, following the Civil War, the U.S. patent laws were revised so that anyone, regardless of race, could hold a patent. Consequently the number of patents issued to African Americans soared.

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Posted February 15, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Inventors

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