How the Black Culture has Influenced Technology

By: Makai Santos-Magee

When someone thinks about technology that has been invented, they will most likely think of someone like Thomas Edison or Samuel Morse. It is less common for someone to instantly have a Black person come to mind. However, this does not mean they didn’t exist, they are everywhere today. Being a black male, there were very few role models who looked like me in certain areas.

There can be a few reasonings as to why Black inventors are not as commonly known as those who are White. One major reason can be because of the textbooks that are used within school. A lot of these textbooks tend to focus on the same subjects, just explained in different ways. It would be a lot less common to read about a change a Black person made compared to reading about White people.

There are multiple inventions in our world that you probably did not even know was invented by a Black person. Marie Van Brittan Brown is a Black woman who made an invention, which is still used today but is more advanced. She is the woman who invented the home security system in 1966. Brown invented this system with her husband Albert Brown who was an electronics technician. Marie Van Brittan Brown decided to come up with this idea because she did not feel safe in her neighborhood. Also, the police were unreliable because they were slow responding to calls.

Another historical Black inventor is Granville Woods. He invented a device that allows train stations to communicate with moving trains. Woods is the first African American mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War. One of his focuses was trains, which led him to create a ground-breaking communication device. The official title of the communication device he invented is the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph. These telegraphs used the electricity from existing telegraph lines to communicate with the moving trains.

In addition to the amazing things African Americans have done in the past, they are still making technological advancements in our world today. Hopefully, everyone now a days knows what a GIF is. If you do not, it is a short moving picture that loops like an animation. You have probably seen one without knowing what it is actually called. The person who created this commonly used item is a woman by the name of Lisa Gelobter. She is involved in many parts of the technological industry such as Shockwave and the emergence of online video by way of Brightcove, Joost, and The FeedRoom.

Hopefully, you have now learned at least one new African American inventor who has made something you have seen or used. I believe those of color do not necessarily get the recognition in history they deserve. In modern day, we are doing a better job at giving people the credit they deserve no matter who it is. It is the ones who made big impacts decades ago who are looked over. Hopefully as time goes on, it can be more common to learn about minority inventors just as much as those who are white.

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