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10 Black Women Innovators and the Awesome Things They Brought Us

Butterflies in Science

10 Black Women Innovators and the Awesome Things They Brought Us

From a better hairbrush to modern 3D technology, ten things that might never have existed without the invention or innovation of black women.

It’s Women’s History Month, and for the month of March people are celebrating the great achievements and contributions of women across the world. So what better time to pay tribute to black women innovators—who are all too often overlooked and excluded from our history books.

Here are ten awesome things that might never have existed without the invention or innovation of black women:

1. Everything good about your phone

Remember the days before call waiting and caller ID? If you answered “yes,” you might be old. And you almost might have  great appreciation for the research of Dr. Shirley Jackson, whose work led to those innovations, along with developments in touch-tone phones, portable fax machines, and the fiber optic cables that make your long-distance phone calls come in crystal clear.

Jackson was the first black woman to earn a doctorate from MIT, the first black female president of a major technological institute, and went on to became the first black woman appointed chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Her list of achievements, awards, and appointments goes on and on.

2. The heater

Isn’t it nice that you can just walk into your home and turn on the heat when you’re cold? You can thank Alice H. Parker for that.

Parker took it upon herself to design a natural gas-fueled “new and improved heating furnace.” Her design earned a patent in December 1919 and helped give birth to the thermostat and the familiar forced air furnaces in most homes today.

3. Space-saving furniture

In 1885, Sarah Goode became the first African-American woman to file a patent. Goode was born into slavery; after the Civil War she moved to Chicago. There, she met her husband and the two of them opened a furniture shop.

Back in the 1880s, most black families in Chicago didn’t buy a lot of furniture because they lived in small homes and apartments. Seeing a need for innovative space-saving solutions, Goode designed the cabinet bed, a bed that could fold into a functioning desk. It’s like a Murphy bed, only more useful.

It’s hard to believe that Goode’s cabinet bed isn’t around today. Think of the space that could be saved in dorm rooms, studio apartments, or those new tiny houses everyone’s talking about.

4. Home security

When Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband Albert noticed increasing crime in their New York neighborhood, coupled with the fact that police were slow to respond to calls in their part of town, they set out to make their home feel safer. In 1966, Brown and her husband filed a patent for a household closed-circuit-television security system.

The system had a camera at the front door that looked through one of four peep holes at different heights. That image was broadcast to the user on a television set in another part of the house. It also had a two-way microphone, which allowed for communication with visitors at the door, and a remote switch that could unlock the door to let people in. If the person seemed unsafe, users could push an alert button to signal a nearby security firm.

Today, very similar systems can be seen in homes and apartment complexes across the nation.

5. Rock and roll

Many people have received credit for inventing rock and roll. Elvis Presley was referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll.” Chuck Berry was the “Father of Rock and Roll.” Alan Freed coined the term “rock and roll.” But did you know that rock and roll also…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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