The contributions of African American inventors have had a tremendous impact on our society. George Washington Carver’s pioneering research on the many uses of the peanut, Garrett Morgan’s creation of the automated traffic light and Benjamin Banneker’s invention of the first clock have revolutionized the way we live, both past and present. Not to be outdone, Michigan is home to African American inventors who have made their mark:
- Robert Pelham: Born in January 1859 in Petersburg, Virginia, but raised in Detroit, Robert Pelham invented and patented two devices that made the Census collection process easier and quicker – the tabulation device (1905) and tallying machine (1903).
- Elijah McCoy: Elijah McCoy was born in May 1844 to fugitive slaves who escaped to Ontario, Canada via the Underground Railroad. Reared in Ypsilanti, McCoy worked as a fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad and, after observing the inefficiencies in the way train axles were oiled, he created a lubricating cup that helped trains continue to run without having to stop for overheating or lubrication issues. He also created his own manufacturing company and acquired 57 patents.
- Allen H. Turner: Born in 1923 in Detroit, Allen Turner played an integral part in the creation of electrocoating and electrocuring, two industrial processes used to this day. In fact, he received 19 patents for the electrocoating apparatus system.