When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week in 1926, he realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public. The intention has never been to dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public's attention important developments that merit emphasis.
Can you name 3 famous 20th century African American Inventors?
The clock is ticking – ok go!
Well, if you couldn’t name 3 off the top of your head, here is a little help courtesy of http://www.black-inventor.com:
Dr. James E. West
Electret Microphone Inventor
Ninety percent of microphones used today are based on the ingenuity of James Edward West, an African-American inventor born in 1931 in Prince Edwards County, VA. If you’ve ever talked on the telephone, you’ve probably used his invention.
Dr. James E. West and a colleague, Gerhard Sessler, developed the mic (officially known as the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone) while with Bell Laboratories, and they received a patent for it in 1962. The acoustical technologies employed became widely used for many reasons including high performance, acoustical accuracy and reliability. It is also small, lightweight and cost effective.
West started at Bell labs as an intern and joined them full-time in 1957 after graduating from Temple University. As the inventor of the microphone, James West has received numerous awards and honors including a Fellow of IEEE, Industrial Research Institute's 1998 Achievement Award, 1995 Inventor of the Year from the State of New Jersey and induction in the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999. James E. West holds 47 US patents and more than 200 foreign patents from his 40-year career with Bell Laboratories.
During his career, West also involved himself with programs designed to encourage minorities to take more of a role in the sciences. In the 1970's, he was a member of the Association of Black Laboratories Employees (ABLE) at Bell Labs that influenced management to fund the Summer Research Program (SRP) and Cooperate Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) – programs that helped more than 500 non-white students graduate with degrees in science, engineering and mathematics. James Edward West now works with Johns Hopkins University as a research professor.
Dr. Shirley Jackson
Jackson started to conduct successful experiments in theoretical physics and then started to use her knowledge in physics to start making advances in telecommunications while working at Bell Laboratories. These inventions include developments in the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cell, and the fiber optic cables used to provide clarity in overseas telephone calls. She has also helped make possible Caller ID and Call Waiting.
Currently, Jackson is the president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, recently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation's top 50 universities. The mission of the Rensselaer Plan calls for "apply[ing] science to the common purposes of life." Dr. Jackson's goal for Rensselaer is "to achieve prominence in the 21st century as a top-tier world-class technological research university, with global reach and global impact."
Dr. Patricia Bath
Fight for the Right to Sight
Imagine living in a world ranging from hazy, clouded vision to that of total darkness for 30 years. Before 1985, that was the plight of those with cataracts who did not want to risk surgery with a mechanical grinder. Now imagine sitting in a doctor's office without being able to see her as she explains that it may be possible to restore your vision. You can't tell by studying body language whether to trust this person or if they're pulling your leg. All you have to go by is the sound of the voice assuring you that this procedure is safe, more accurate and more comfortable than traditional cataract surgery.
As a noted Opthamologist and famous black inventor, Dr. Patricia Bath has dedicated her life to the treatment and prevention of visual impairments. Her personal belief that everyone has the "Right to Sight" led to her invention in 1985 of a specialized tool and procedure for the removal of cataracts. With the Laserphaco Probe and procedure, Dr. Bath increased the accuracy and results of cataract surgery, which had previously been performed manually with a mechanical grinder.
The difference between the old method and her new invention was the difference between the use of highly accurate laser technology and the somewhat subjective accuracy of a mechanical device. The Laserphaco Probe combined an optical laser, irrigation system and suction tubes. In use, the laser is inserted into a tiny incision on the eye; the laser then vaporizes the cataract and lens material, which is removed via the suction tubes. A replacement lens is then inserted on the eye.
With the Laserphaco Probe invention and the development of the procedure for its use, Dr. Bath helped restore the sight of several people who had been blinded by cataracts for up to 30 years. Imagine the joy they felt when they opened their eyes to see Dr. Patricia Bath's smiling face for the first time.
Well, now you know more than you did a few minutes ago - make someone's day - share the knowledge!
"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." -Rosa Parks