Fun list of Black inventors and inventions for kids to study during Black History Month, STEM studies, or fun history ideas or Black heritage lessons throughout the year!
Interesting List of Black Inventors And Inventions (Fun African American Inventors Kids May Not Know About)
Black Inventor: Lewis Latimer (1848-1928)
Latimer is known for his work in improving the design of the electric lamp and creating a carbon filament that was used in Thomas Edison’s light bulb. He also improved on the toilet system for railroad cars.
Black Inventor: Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919)
Walker was an entrepreneur and inventor who became America’s first self-made female millionaire. She developed a line of hair care products specifically for African American women, including a hot comb that was used to straighten hair.
Black Inventor: Granville T. Woods (1856-1910)
Woods was a prolific inventor, holding over 50 patents in fields such as electrical and mechanical engineering. Some of his notable inventions include an electric railway system, a telephone transmitter, and a telegraphy device.
FUN FACT FOR KIDS: Woods was often referred to as “The Black Edison” because of his significant contributions to the electrical industry.
Black Inventor: Garrett Morgan (1877-1963)
Morgan was an inventor and businessman who held several patents, including a breathing device (gas mask) that was used during World War I. He is best known for his traffic signal, which was a precursor to modern traffic lights.
Black Inventor: Elijah McCoy (1843-1929)
McCoy was a Canadian-American inventor who patented over 50 inventions, most of which were related to lubrication systems for machinery. The phrase “the real McCoy” is said to have originated from the high quality of his inventions.
Black Inventor: Jan Matzeliger (1852-1889)
Matzeliger was a Belgian-American inventor who revolutionized the shoe-making industry with his invention of the lasting machine, which automated the process of attaching the upper part of a shoe to its sole.
Black Inventor: George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
Carver was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other crops grown by Southern farmers and was known for inventing the crop rotation system that saved crops (and helped crops thrive for years!). Carver is mistakingly thought to have discovered peanut butter (he didn’t), but he did come up with many things made from peanuts, including a type of gasoline made from peanuts.
Black Inventor: Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)
Banneker was a self-taught mathematician, astronomer, and inventor who built the first clock made in America and helped survey the land for the design of Washington, D.C.
Want to listen to the Black History Inventors Parent Busters podcast episode?
GET MORE IDEAS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH LESSONS
List of African American Inventors and Black Scientists to Learn About
24 Additional Notable Black Inventions
Here are more Black History Month inventors to add to your list:
- Marie Van Brittan Brown – Home security system
- George Crum – Potato chips
- Frederick McKinley Jones – Refrigeration system for trucks and trains
- Ronald McNair – Astronaut and laser physicist
- Lonnie G. Johnson – Super Soaker water gun
- Percy Julian – Synthesis of cortisone, a hormone used to treat arthritis
- Sarah Goode – Folding cabinet bed
- Alice Parker – Central heating system using natural gas
- Richard Spikes – Automobile and mechanical patents and inventions
- Roy L. Clay Sr. (aka: “Godfather of Silicon Valley”) – Computer software and hardware
- Toni Stone – One of three Black women to first play professional baseball
- James E. West – Electroacoustic transducer used in microphones
- Otis Boykin – Electronic component used in computers and radios
- William Purvis – Improvements to bags and fountain pens
- Samuel R. Scottron – Curtain poles and adjustable mirrors for barber shops
- Ernest Everett Just – Research in the field of cell division and fertilization
- Charles Drew – Blood bank organizer, plasma preservations, and blood transfusion methods
- Marjorie Joyner – Permanent waving machine for hair
- Mark Dean – Computer hardware design and development (holds original patents for PC designs)
- Maxine Hicks – Mechanical apparatus for hair braiding
- Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – Sanitary belt and menstrual pad
- Lloyd Hall – Food preservation techniques and food analysis (his way of curing meat is still used today!)
- Rufus Stokes – Air pollution control equipment
- Alexander Miles – Elevator safety features (automatic elevator doors that open and close!)
These are just a few examples of the many Black inventors who have made significant contributions to technology and society.
Children’s Books About Black Inventors
Add this kids’ books to Black History Month books or while learning about inventors in Black History and prominent people in Black history:
Unique Kids Books for Black History Month:
- The Great Book of Black Heroes: 30 Fearless and Inspirational Black Men and Women that Changed History
- Young Trailblazers: The Book of Black Inventors and Scientists: (Inventions by Black People, Black History for Kids, Children’s United States History)
- Lift Every Voice and Change: A Sound Book: A Celebration of Black Leaders and the Words that Inspire Generations
- Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal
- Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight
- Mae Among the Stars