Black Scientist: Grace Under Pressure, Creativity in The Face of Adversity:

The contributions of blacks in the field of science have been a missing chapter in the narrative of America’s scientific and technological advancement.  From the beginning, African Americans were part of America’s scientific endeavors: Benjamin Banneker produced the blueprint for Washington DC; Norbert Rillieau, chemical engineer, revolutionized the sugar industry by building a refining system; Elijah McCoy whose name became synonymous with  high-quality (The Real McCoy) patented more than fifty inventions used by the railroad companies; Grandville T. Woods, invented the trolley car system and helped invent the light bulb, telegraph and telephone systems; Lewis Latimer produced the drawing for the telephone and wrote the world’s first book on electric lighting; Jan Matzeliger, revolutionized the shoe industry with the invention of the shoe lasting machine, and Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask and traffic signal. The conditions under which blacks created and invented helps to better appreciate the contributions of African American to science and the advancement of America.  Black scientists made their inventions and discoveries in the “face of an indifferent and hostile society.”  Thus, it is a tribute to their inner urge to create in spite of the continuous questioning of their humanity and intellect.  Their internal fortitude demonstrated by these giants reaffirms music and social critic Albert Murray belief that:

Human beings unlike machines may give high-octane performance on low-octane fuel. Deprived machines always grasp in desperation and run down; deprived human beings, on the other hand, may become immensely creative. But perhaps the catch in all of this is that it is not really possible to deprive human beings as one deprives a mechanical device. After all, a human being can always wish and dream and he can never be reduced to zero.  Not as long as he is potentially capable of defining himself in terms of him own aspirations.

Black scientist and inventors, deprived of human freedom, yet the products of a resilient and affirming African American culture , dreamed and gave give “high-octane performance on low-octane fuel”,  thereby enabling  America to advance its Industrial Revolution and technological advancement. Reference: James Michael Brodie, Created Equal: Black American Innovators.

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