Genius of African American Creativity

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Garrett Augustus Morgan

African American scientists and inventors have created products and services that have had wide-reaching benefits.

Dr. Charles Drew was born on June 3, 1904 in Washington, D.C. to Nora and Richard Drew. As with other inventors, Charles displayed a keen interest in medicine and science when he was a young boy. He attended Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. A natural born athlete, after he graduated from Amherst College, he taught biology and coached at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Charles Drew Saving Lives With Blood Plasma

McGill University School of Medicine in Montreal, Canada is where Dr. Charles Drew received his graduate education. After he graduated from McGill University in 1933, he worked at Howard University from 1935 until 1936. Then and according to Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, he worked as an instructor and assistant surgeon at Freedman’s Hospital.

During World War II when the need for blood plasma escalated, Dr. Charles Drew was commissioned to lead the Blood for Britain project. He was also appointed director for the first American Red Cross Blood Bank. Much of his work during this time was for the military. After the war Dr. Charles Drew returned to work at Freedman’s Hospital and Howard University.

He has been awarded the Spingarn Medal and had a United States postage stamp created in his honor. August 1966, the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science was incorporated in honor of the physician. The 11-acre campus is located in Los Angeles, California. His work to preserve blood plasma and perform blood transfusions is still used to extend lives. Contrary to rumor, Dr. Charles Drew was given a blood transfusion and offered the best care after he suffered fatal injuries during an automobile accident in 1950.

Long Term Benefits of the Traffic Light

Born on March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky to Elizabeth and Sydney, Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. was one of 11 children. He was only 14 years old when he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio so that he could further his education. Although Garrett, the son of former slaves, held down a job in his early teenage years, he made sure that he received a good education by hiring a private tutor.

In 1895 after he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, Garrett Morgan repaired sewing machines for a local clothing manufacturer. Not one to settle for the hand that he was dealt, Garrett Morgan started to explore and discover various ways to improve his repairs. Word about his skills spread throughout the Cleveland area.

Patent drawing of Morgan’s signal

Eight years after he was hired to work with the Cleveland, Ohio clothing manufacturer, African American inventor Garrett Morgan opened his own business, a sewing equipment and repair shop. Two years later in 1909, his company employed 32 people. In 1920 Garrett Morgan founded a newspaper titled The Cleveland Call. He bought an automobile and began traveling the streets of Cleveland, Ohio by car. His experiences on the road would cause him to become curious about methods to improve the flow of the city’s traffic.

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that after Garrett Morgan witnessed a traffic collision between an automobile and a horse drawn buggy he became determined to find a way to improve traffic safety.

Garrett Morgan went to work. On November 20, 1923, he received a United States patent for a three-position traffic signal. He later expanded the patent to cover Great Britain and Canada. A safety hood and smoke detector and a gas mask are other inventions created by Garrett Morgan.