For the month of February and in celebration of African American History Month, Headline Science Now is featuring biographies of prominent African American scientists and inventors. Our first installment features Inventors and their contributions to history and society.
Prior to the Civil War, free blacks were entitled to receive patents for their inventions, although very few had the skills or education to develop their ideas. But a significant number of black inventors successfully developed and patented their inventions. Thomas Jennings was the first to hold a patent and he used funds from that patent to fund abolitionist causes. In 1870, after the Civil War, the U.S. patent laws were revised so that anyone, regardless of race, could hold a patent and the number of patents issued to African Americans greatly increased.
This post focuses on Norbert Rillieux, Elijah McCoy, Lewis Howard Lattimer, Garrett Augustus Morgan, Frederick McKinley Jones, Patricia Bath, and Mark Dean.