African-American inventions that are a part of your everyday life.

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In honor of African-American Heritage Month, here is a list of everyday items that were created by Black inventors.

  1. America’s first clock
    1. Built by Benjamin Banneker in 1752, the first clock built in America was the first step that led to the clocks that keep us on track centuries later and wake us up for our 8 a.m.’s.
  2. Automatic Gear Shift
    1. For all of us who don’t know how to drive stick shift, we can thank Richard Spikes for the automatic gear shift that he invented in 1932. 
  3. Blood Bank
    1. Dr. Charles Drew is the man who discovered the process of separating and storing plasma and allowing it to be dehydrated and banked for future use. For college students and many others, donating plasma is now a go-to way for some quick money. 
  4. Clothes Dryer
    1. The man responsible for the machines that save us from hanging up every article of clothing is George T. Sampson. (However, maybe we shouldn’t credit him for the broken drying machines in Thatcher…)
  5. Lawn Sprinkler
    1. Those random moments when you want to feel like a child again and run through the sprinklers just to feel something after you studied all night for a test? Joseph A. Smith is the man who made this possible for you.
  6.  Ice Cream Scooper
    1. … Or maybe you went ahead and bought a half-gallon of ice cream for yourself after failing a test. The scoop you’re using to fill your bowl? Give a special thank you to Alfred L. Cralle.
  7. Three-light Traffic Lights
    1. An invention we encounter daily: the red, yellow and green light system that road systems follow internationally was created by Garrett Morgan. Because of him, we are able to cruise through that yellow light in order to make curfew on Friday nights. 
  8. Longer lasting light bulbs
    1. For those late nights studying, Lewis Latimer invented the carbon filament used in the lightbulbs on your desk lamp. This man also designed an early air conditioning unit. So, the next time you hear the AC unit in your dorm room turn on, you can think of him.
  9. The Super Soaker
    1. The coolest water gun on the market when 90s and early 2000s kids were growing up was created by aerospace engineer Lonnie G. Johnson. He is the man behind many of the summertime memories that lots of us have from childhood.
  1. GIFs
    1. When you’re up scrolling through twitter at 2 a.m., instead of sleeping, and opening that one thread filled with GIFs, you can credit Lisa Gelobter for the short clip. 

And these are just to name a few! Other African-Americans invented (or co-invented) items include the dust pan, gas masks, the lawn mower, folding chairs, the ironing board, spark plugs, pacemakers for artificial hearts, the typewriter, luggage carriers, Cascade toothpaste and so much more. On a more abstract but equally tangible level, music, fashion and art from African-American culture has been and continues to be extremely influential. Therefore, this culture deserves to be credited for the impact it has on common trends and styles in all forms of art and creations. 

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