Celebrating Black History means celebrating the fullness of the African-American story. Beyond the limitations of American History books and the narrative portrayed in the news is a rich, complicated story of strength, resilience and perseverance. To be African-American means to include not only those who descend directly from slaves brought to the Americas, but those who came later in search of “the American Dream.” History notes that at least 12 million Africans were forcibly taken to the Americas… the largest forced migration in human history. With that came the destruction of family ties, language, culture, and identity.
Despite hundreds of years of slavery, discrimination, brutality, and racial injustices, embedded not simply in the behavior of the “majority”, but in the laws and systems that were created, African-Americans have helped lay the foundation for the America that we know today. There are a number of African-American inventors who helped the advancement of society.
Garrett Morgan who created the traffic signal and the third “caution” signal which is now known as the yellow light.
Shirley Jackson whose research led to the invention of products like the touch tone phone, caller ID and the portable fax.
Alexander Miles invented the flexible belt attached to the elevator cage that allowed the doors to function automatically.
Lisa Gelobter who was involved in developing the technology that helped create web animation.
These are only a few of the great inventions and inventors who helped make every day life easier. In addition to inventors there have been a number of individuals and institutions that have sparked movements to address the inequalities embedded in the fabric of our country. This is by no means a comprehensive list, for to do so would take volumes. It is simply a snapshot of select moments in history.
To capture all of the moments would be beyond the scope of this article and to make one more important than the other would be a mistake. Together, all of the people act as a reminder of the resilience and tenacity of African-American people in this country, not just in our ability to survive, but to thrive.
As we celebrate Black History, we honor the contributions made by African-American people to this country, and recognize the importance of continuing the work of dismantling racism and instituitionalized injustice. We invite you to continue learning with us here.