30 Reasons to Thank a Black Person

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Plenty would not exist were it not for black pioneers; here’s a very small glimpse at what modern day inventions came from the African American community.

1. Automatic Gear Shift

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Richard Spikes – Driving up a steep hill got a whole lot easier in 1932, thanks to this guy.

2. America’s First Clock

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Benjamin Banneker – He was a farmer, mathematician, astronomer, land surveyor, and the subject of a Stevie Wonder song.

3. Automatic Elevator Doors

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Alexander Miles – We’ve all gotten the elevator door hug and we all owe this man.

4. Blimp

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John Pickering – His was the first blimp to have an electric motor and directional controls. Goodyear better have this man’s picture in their lobby.

5. Blood Bank

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Dr. Charles Drew – For his invention of a method of separating and storing plasma, allowing it to be dehydrated and banked for later use, Dr. Drew was the first black person awarded a doctorate at Columbia University.

6. Clothes Dryer

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George T. Sampson – Giving laundry baskets a greater sense of purpose since 1892.

7. Dust Pan

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Lloyd P. Ray – Mr. Ray patented the reason we have far fewer backaches.

8. Electric Lamp

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Lewis Latimer – He also invented the carbon filament inside light bulbs.

9. Folding Chair

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John Purdy – With patent partner James R. Sadgwar, Purdy made taking a chair with you purdy easy. Get it?

10. Gas Heating Furnace

Illustration of early 20th century cast iron gas heater
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Alice H. Parker – Forever changing the way we stay warm in the winter.

11. Gas Mask

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Garret Morgan – It all started when this guy rescued trapped miners wearing a hood to protect his eyes from smoke and had tubes leading to the floor to draw clean air.

12. Golf Tee

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Dr. George Grant – They say he was an avid golfer, but not a great one. Hopefully his patent improved his game.

13. Home Security System

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Marie Van Brittan Brown – And television has been part of home security ever since.

14. Ice Cream Scooper

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Alfred L. Cralle – You’ve been screaming, I’ve been screaming, we’ve all been screaming for this since 1897.

15. Ironing Board

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Sarah Boone – The reason we no longer iron across a piece of wood balanced on two chairs.

16. Lawn Mower

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John Albert Burr – The lawnmower’s best makeover ever brought better traction, rotary blades, and allowed cutting closer to buildings.

17. Lawn Sprinkler

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Joseph A. Smith – We should honor this man for helping with Father’s Day ideas every year.

18. Mail Box

Four rural mailboxes.
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Phillip Downing – Before this invention, people had to make a long trip to the Post Office to mail a letter.

19. Modern Lock

Security guard locking a gate at water treatment facility
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Washington Martin – His patent was an improvement on the 4,000-year-old Chinese bolt.

20. Modern Toilet

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Thomas Elkins – He influenced several major patents, but it’s this one we appreciate most (not to knock the multi-purpose table or refrigerators for dead bodies).

21. Mop

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Thomas W. Stewart – He’s kept us off our hands and knees since 1893.

22. Pacemaker

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Otis Boykin – On top of this lifesaving invention, he was born in Dallas, Texas. Double. Greatness.

23. Portable Pencil Sharpener

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John Lee Love – A carpenter clever with names for his inventions, calling this one the ‘Love Sharpener.’

24. Potato Chips

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George Crum – You have to love that his last name is Crum.

25. Reversible Baby Stroller

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William Richardson – He’s also the reason wheels move separately. We feel certain there are fewer crying babies in the world because of this man.

26. Super Soaker

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Lonnie G. Johnson – Being a NASA engineer is impressive, but we love him for inventing the Super Soaker!

27. Suspenders

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28. Thermostat & Temperature Control

Regulator climate control.
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Frederick Jones – His refrigeration equipment made it possible to transport blood and food during World War II.

29. Touch-Tone Telephone

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson – And that’s not the only way Dr. Jackson made our telecommunications lives easier Along with being the first African American woman to earn a PhD from MIT, she gave us the portable fax machine, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable.

30. Traffic Light

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Garrett Morgan – Three cheers for the red, green and yellow. Mostly for the green!

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