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Famous Inventions by African Americans

Innovations that changed the world

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    Carter Godwin Woodson originated Negro History Week, which would later become Black History Month, in 1926. February was chosen in honor of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born in that month.

    Photo: Wikipedia/ Wikipedia

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    Charles Henry Turner (1867-1923), a zoologist and educator, was the first person to discover that insects can hear.

    Photo: Flickr Wikipedia

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    Robert L. Johnson founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) is the first African-American billionaire.

    Photo: Getty Images

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    John Love invented the pencil sharpener in 1897.

    Photo: Flickr

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    Thomas J. Martin patented the first fire extinguisher in 1872.

    Photo: Flickr

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    Dr. Charles Drew discovered techniques to store blood, and developed the first blood banks.

    Photo: Flickr Wikipedia

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    Lewis Howard Latimer drafted patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, while working at a patent law firm. He also patented an improved way to produce carbon filaments for light bulbs.

    Photo: Wikipedia Wikipedia

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    Madam C.J. Walker developed and marketed a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

    Photo: Wikipedia

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    Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877-1963) invented, among many other things, a 3-way automatic stop sign, which he sold to General Electric. It was used in the U.S. until the 3-light traffic sign was developed.

    Photo: Wikipedia

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    In 1892, George T. Sampson invented a clothes dryer that used heat from a stove.

    Photo: About.com