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Throughout history, African Americans have made significant contributions to our society. As we recognize Black History Month, we honor the groundbreaking achievements of four African American innovators who revolutionized the way we live: Alexander Miles, Sarah Boone, Garrett Morgan, and Frederick McKinley Jones. Through their inventions, these four African American innovators have changed the way we live for the better.

Alexander Miles

Alexander Miles was an inventor who revolutionized the elevator industry when he created the first automatic elevator doors in 1887. His invention was the result of an effort to improve the safety of elevators and reduce the risk of accidents. The automatic doors opened and closed on their own, allowed for faster operation, and eliminated the need for an attendant to manually operate the doors. Miles’ invention was an instant success, and the patent quickly spread throughout the world, revolutionizing elevators and the transportation industry as a whole. Miles’ invention is still used to this day and continues to improve the safety and convenience of elevators for users around the world.

Sarah Boone

Sarah Boone was an African American inventor who made an important contribution to the modern home. In 1892, she patented an improved ironing board. This new design had an adjustable height feature, allowing users to adjust the board to their own height, making the task of ironing easier. The board also had a collapsible design, allowing for easy storage. This design was an improvement over existing designs, which had a fixed height and were often bulky and difficult to store. By improving the design of the ironing board, Sarah Boone made a lasting contribution to the home by making it easier to keep clothes looking neat and presentable.

Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan was an African-American inventor who created the first three-light traffic signal in 1923. This revolutionary invention was an improvement on the standard two-light traffic signal, which could only signify “stop” and “go”. Morgan’s three-light traffic signal included an additional light: a “caution” signal. This new light signaled to drivers when they should slow down and proceed with caution. Morgan’s invention was revolutionary because it helped reduce the number of traffic-related accidents, injuries, and deaths. By adding the caution signal, drivers had more time to react to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Morgan’s invention was so successful that it was eventually adopted by cities across the United States and is still in use today.

Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was an inventor who is most well known for inventing refrigerated trucks. His invention allowed for the transportation of goods that needed to remain cold, such as food and medicine. The invention allowed for goods to be transported without spoiling, which was a major breakthrough in the transportation industry. Jones held over 60 patents in his lifetime and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991. His invention of refrigerated trucks revolutionized the transportation industry and made it possible for goods to be shipped over long distances without spoiling.


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