An honest dialogue about love, life, and everything in-between...

Thursday, February 28, 2008


12:07 AM |

...celebrating those we forget

With the end of Black History month upon us, I found myself underwhelmed with the amount of attention paid to it this year. Normally I'm sickened by hip-hop versions of various product commercials, and constant talks about Martin and Malcolm. Even McDonald's didn't do their 365 commercials this year. I can say that I give credit to Freestyle Collective who developed VH1's "Black Is" station id's this year. Really click on the link and view it. By far the most impressive Black History month animation and information I've seen by a cable network.

Every year we love to pay attention to the great contribution of Blacks in music, art, literature and culture. However to limit the tales of our contributions to those areas makes us appear to be very one dimensional people. Remember "in olden times" it was only acceptable for Black people to be successful in those fields and in a sense we are continuing to perpetuate that belief. Black people have contributed in huge ways in many other fields, so with the help of 101 Little Know Black History Facts, I'd like to share a few accomplishment from those we've forget given the spot light to.

Walter S. McAfee is the African American mathematician and physicist who first calculated the speed of the moon. McAfee participated in Project Diana in the 1940s - a U.S. Army program, created to determine whether a high frequency radio signal could penetrate the earth's outer atmosphere. Official news of this scientific breakthrough did not include McAfee's name, nor was there any recognition of the essential role he played. But Americans could not have walked on the moon had it not been for Walter S. McAfee and his calculations.

Alexander Lucius Twilight was the first African American to receive a college degree. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 1823.

Louis Latimer was the only African American engineer/scientist member of the elite Edison Pioneers research and development organization. Until Latimer's process for making carbon filament, Edison's light bulbs would burn only for a few minutes. Latimer's filament burned for hours.

A tailor in New York City, Thomas L. Jennings is credited with being the first African American to hold a U.S. patent. The patent, which was issued in 1821, was for a dry-cleaning process.

Otis Boykin’s most noteworthy invention was an electrical mechanism, created in 1955, as a regulating unit for the heart pacemaker. Boykin also invented a type of resistor (an electric circuit element) commonly in use today in radios, computers, and television sets.

The first Blacks to settle in Alabama were Moors that arrived with the Spanish in 1540— 80 years before the pilgrims.

Jefferson Franklin Long becomes first Black person to speak in the House of Representatives as a congressman in 1871.

Diahann Carroll was the first African American woman to have her own weekly television series, “Julia.”

In 1954, with Barbara Jordan as the leader, the all-Black Texas Southern University debate team stunned and beat the Harvard debate team. She was also the first black woman to serve as in congress on behalf of a southern state.

Sophia Tucker and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College, used just $100 to found this Historically Black College. FYI Spelman is not the only Historically Black all girls university; Bennett College in Greensboro, NC is the other one. (Spent many summers there).

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Edward Alexander Bouchet was the first African American to graduate (1874) from Yale College. In 1876, upon receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Yale, he became the first African American to earn a doctorate. Bouchet spent his career teaching college chemistry and physics.

Joseph N. Jackson invented a programmable remote control for television.

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., became the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force in 1954.

If you enjoy buying fresh food from across the country at your local supermarket, you have an African American inventor named Frederick McKinley Jones to thank. He invented the air-cooling units used in food transporting trucks in the 1930s, and was awarded more than 60 patents over the course of his life, 40 of which involved refrigeration equipment.

Alice Parker, in 1918, created a heating furnace that could be used to heat an entire living space.

Col. Guion S. Bluford, Jr., Ph.D. (USAF) was the first African American in space. He has flown missions on STS–8, STS 61–A, STS–39, and STS–53.