Black women inventors tend to shape the world. May we know them and honor them.
At this time of year, as we continue to celebrate the lives, successes, and perseverance of Black people past, present, and future—it’s always nice to have a refresher on just how much we’ve given to the world. As civic leaders, forward thinkers, entertainers, and everything in between, Black people set the tone for what can be accomplished with little to no resources and a hell of a lot of innovation. However, Black women up the ante to the umpteenth degree when it comes to pushing the culture forward. But, often, we hear the same names every Black History Month. Though those names, undoubtedly, belong to people who deserve all the applause they’ve gotten, others could use some shine too. Names like Alice H. Parker and Marie Van Brittan Brown should ring bells as much as Madame C.J. Walker.
Here’s why that’s the case, as well as a few more Black women you should know.
Alice H. Parker
As freezing temperatures hit areas that have never seen the effects of winter, we have Parker to thank for keeping us warm. She created the first natural gas-fueled furnace in 1919 that helped birth the thermostat that most of us use in our homes today. The next time you’re arguing over whether to keep the heat at 75 or 80, thank Alice H. Parker for her contributions.
Honestly, what would our group chats and social media posts be without GIFs? Not half as fun, and we can give Lisa Gelobter her flowers for developing the animation needed to create these perfect punch lines to illustrate our thoughts. This computer scientist also created the video technology behind Hulu. I mean…a QUEEN! Know her.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Do you secure your home or business with a video security system? Well, a Black woman made that possible. In 1969, Brown and her husband Albert were granted a patent for their complex system that, at the time, included a camera, two-way mic, peepholes, and an alarm. Though working with her husband to complete it, Marie Van Brittan Brown designed the system on her own and it is now the foundation for doorbell cameras and closed circuit television systems.
When was the last time you enjoyed a fresh-pressed juice or smoothie? Probably not that long ago. And you guessed it. A Black woman is the reason why you could. Tired of squeezing fruit by hand, Madeline Turner created a machine that could extract juice from apples, oranges, and lemons. In 1916, she was given a patent for her “ingenious” invention, and this is the reason we can all pay insane amounts of money to drink our veggies.
Sarah E. Goode
Ikea who? Not only was Sarah E. Goode the first Black woman to be given a patent, but in 1885 she revolutionized the idea of dual-purpose furniture by creating the cabinet bed. The bed could be folded into a functional work desk to save space in small apartments and homes. So ahead of her time and definitely a trailblazer for the furniture we know and love today.
May we honor these 5 Black women inventors today and every day.