Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Female Inventors Then and Now

Black Female Inventors Then and Now
As we come to the close of Black History Month and begin the celebration of Women’s History Month in March I thought it would be a good idea to write about a few of the many Black female inventors then and now. Many of the inventions that we often take for granted were created by black inventors. 

There was a time when the U.S. patent office would not recognize inventions created by blacks, allowing whites to take credit for black inventions. Women inventors not only had to deal with racism but they also had male chauvinism to contend with.

Sarah Goode was the first African American female to receive a U.S. patent in 1885, born a slave Mrs. Good and her husband moved to Chicago after the civil war to open a furniture store. Many of her customers lived in very small apartments. Mrs. Good invented a folding cabinet bed, which could be converted into a cabinet desk when not in use. This was the forerunner of the Murphy and sofa bed.

Mariam Benjamin was the second African American female to receive a U.S. patent in 1888 for inventing the Gong and signal chair. This type of chair allowed for hotel guest to push a button to request waiter service. This invention was later adopted by the United States House of Representatives. Ms. Benjamin’s invention became a precursor to the signaling systems used by airlines that allow passengers to reach flight attendants for service.

Dr. Patricia Bath was the first Africa American women to receive a patent for a medical purpose in 1988 for her invention the Laserphaco Probe a medical device that makes use of a laser to remove cataracts quickly and nearly without pain. Dr. Bath was born in Harlem received her B.A. in chemistry from Hunter College and her Doctoral degree from Howard University’s Medical School.

Marie Van Brittan invented the first close circuit TV security system in1969. Born and raised in Jamaica Queens Mrs. Van Brittan and her husband Albert Brown who worked as an electronics technician installed the first home  audio and video security system in their home at 151-58 135th Avenue Jamaica, New York, their address is listed on the patent.

Dr.  Hadiyah Nicole Green became an orphan at an early age she was raised by her Aunt and Uncle. Dr. Green lost both her aunt and uncle to cancer. Her aunt refused to be treated with chemotherapy and she watched her uncle suffer from the side-effect of chemo until he died.

This experience motivated Dr. Green to become a distinguished physicist. Dr. Green’s ground breaking research of using laser technology to insert nanoparticles to kill cancer cells has a great deal of promise. This type of laser technology has shown a 100% cancer tumor regression in mice and my one day replace the need for chemotherapy.

The future is bright for African American female inventors and they are getting younger. Maddy Maxey at the age of 20 is the first African American female to interface fashion with technology creating electronic textile making clothing with intelligence at her workplace in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

At the age of 7 Zora Bell became the youngest person to create a mobile APP video game. The first grader from West Philadelphia presented her full version mobile game at the University of Pennsylvania’s Bootstrap Expo in 2012. We are who we think we are, never allow fear and doubt keep you from being all that you can be.

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