Creative Contributions Of African Americans

By Melita Wallace 

A recent LinkedIn Learning survey determined that the number one Soft Skill companies need most in 2019 is creativity. In an age of increasing automation and artificial intelligence, employers need individuals who can conceptualize and innovate to create the future that robots alone aren’t capable of. But what this LinkedIn report failed to mention, is that creativity is often something that is easier said than done. How exactly do we go about mastering the skill of creativity? One great way is to take advantage of the 22 lessons we have in our Soft Skills library centered on the art of Cultivating Creativity. And in honor of Black History Month, another way to get your creative juices flowing is to take a look at these five revolutionary inventions, all created by amazing African Americans.

In Honor Of Black History Month: The Creative Contributions Of African Americans That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

  1. Marie Bran Brittan Brown: Invented the first home security system
    • As a full-time nurse, Mrs.Brown creatively concocted a system of microphones, cameras, monitors, and peepholes to improve the safety of her home. Her addition of a button that sounded an alarm and immediately contacted the police laid the foundation for many of the surveillance and crime prevention tools we all use today.
  2. Otis Boykin: Invented the IBM computer
    • Born in 1920 in Dallas, Texas, Boykin revolutionized electronics as we know them today. By creating a wire precision resistor, he transformed the way that electric currents are transferred in many electronic systems, but especially the IBM computer. This invention was an integral part of the creation of IBM computers.
  3. Lisa Gelobter: Invented the Gif and the emergence of online video
    • Gifs are fun additions we love to include in our text messages and Facebook posts to humorously convey what we’re really feeling. Did you know that it’s all thanks to a Black woman? Lisa Gelobter was an executive in BET networks’ digital department and is currently working in the United States Digital Service Department at the White House. She also played an important role in the creation of web animation and online videos becoming accessible to global audiences.
  4. Frederick M. Jones: Invented the Air Conditioner (plus 60 other inventions during his lifetime)
    • Frederick McKinley Jones may have been one of the most creative individuals in history. In addition to creating a snowmobile, portable automatic refrigeration for military vehicles and an automatic movie ticket dispensary machine, he is the one to thank for the relief of cold air in our homes during hot summer days. Through self-taught mastery and ingenuity in mechanics and electronics, he invented the very first air conditioning unit which was for a military hospital. He was also a veteran himself.
  5. Alexander Miles: Invented the elevator 
    • Known as the “wealthiest colored man in the Northwest” in the early 1900’s, Miles saw a need to solve the safety hazard presented by all elevator passengers having to manually open and close elevator doors. Through ingenuity and passion for his daughters’ safety, he created a device that allowed for an automatic opening and closing of elevator doors when they arrived at the desired floor. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

            Hopefully you’ve been as inspired by these creative minds as much as I have. All of these examples are proof that no matter the obstacles that may lie in front of you, there are always ways to create an opportunity for yourself that just may impact the whole world! In the 1800’s and in 2019, creativity is a skill that will never go out of style!