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We’re Makin’ History

  Black History does not mean that important events, people, and inventions all took place in or around the 1800’s. There are plenty of things that have taken place in recent history. Here are just a couple of the highlights over the last few decades.

* 1957 Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. Federal troops and the National Guard are called to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the “Little Rock Nine.” Despite a year of violent threats, several of the “Little Rock Nine” manage to graduate from Central High.

* 1961 Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of “Freedom Riders,” as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.

* 1976 Alex Haley receives a special Pulitzer Prize for his novel Roots. The next year, made into a mini-series, Roots will be one of the most popular shows in the history of television.

* 1986 Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is made into a national holiday.

* 1996 Amid growing racial tension in the South, nearly 40 primarily African American churches are burned there.

* 2000 In the largest settlement ever in a U.S. racial discrimination suit, the Coca-Cola Company agrees to pay out $192.5 million to roughly 2,000 African American employees.

* 2008 On November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee John McCain for the position of U.S. President, 52.9 percent to 45.7 percent. On January 20, 2009, Obama became the 44th president of the United States—and the first African-American to hold this office.

Although Black History Month officially takes place in February, let us not forget that Black History should not be limited to the shortest month of the year, but yet celebrated every day. I hope you have enjoyed my three part history series. See you next Thursday:)

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The Originator

   Segment Two of my history lesson will focus on African American inventions.

  • The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum.
  • The street letter drop mailbox with a hinged door that closed to protect the mail was invented by Philip B. Downing. This was patented on October 27, 1891.
  • Sarah E. Goode invented the folding cabinet bed, a space-saver that folded up against the wall into a cabinet. Her patent was the first one obtained by an African-American woman inventor (July 14, 1885).
  • Granville T. Woods invented the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains in 1887.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath was the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose (1988). Her Laserphaco Probe is used around the world to treat cataracts.
  • Frederick McKinley Jones invented the refrigeration system for trucks in 1940.

Some improvements that also made history include:

– William Purvis… Fountain Pen in 1890.

– Alexander Miles…  Elevator in 1887.

– Sarah Goode… Ironing Board in 1892.

– Lewis Latimer… Carbon Filament in the Light Bulb in 1881.

Stay tuned for the next history lesson… .