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A Tribute to Black Excellence

Posted by Deja Foster on Mar 1, 2017 1:00:00 PM

As Black History Month comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect and acknowledge the unsung, influential, African-American contributors to the rich history of innovation in the United States. 

In highlighting key innovators, HVAC&R student Kyle Gathers performs his original spoken word piece entitled “Black Excellence”. In this piece, Kyle, who engages in spoken word and motivational speaking engagements during his spare time, reflects on the many contributions that African Americans have made to the advancement of technology and the trade industries represented by our college. 

Within this piece, Kyle mentions heavily influential inventors such as Elijah McCoy, who invented the automatic oil devices found in car engines, Lewis Latimer, who invented the carbon wire that lights up the light bulb, and Granville T. Woods, who holds over 50 patents for his contributions to electrical inventions. Many of the names cited above, as well as the others mentioned by Kyle, are not commonly known nor celebrated in their industries. In our discussion together, he makes sure to emphasize the importance that knowing this history has for him as an individual.

“Knowing that my ancestor’s heavily influenced the trade industry we see today instills in me the confidence to pursue a trade present day in an industry where most young men like myself are a minority.”

He further explains that it was his learning of this rich history that inspired him to pursue a trade himself, which led to him enrolling at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Kyle hopes by sharing this, others will be just as inspired by the marvelous inventions and inventors he acknowledges. His intention is for everyone to feel included in this poem for he views his showcase on black inventors as a celebration of diversity and an acknowledgement of world history - our history, both his and yours.

For more on our conversation regarding his spoken word piece Black Excellence, and his recommendations on inventors to research, please read the interview following the video below: 

Q: What does excellence mean to you? How does the average person embody or achieve this?

A: Excellence, to me, means the ability to achieve through discipline and determination, and overcome despite the organized efforts to keep the negative image of our community popularized. Black Excellence has contributed to numerous medical, mathematical,  and astrological inventions as well as hundreds of technical inventions which all people benefit from and couldn’t live without. For men of color, Knowing your history gives you confidence when there is none, and a platform of great people to aspire to. We can achieve excellence when we can identify with our forefathers.

 

Q: What are some of the most surprising innovations by Black Inventors?

A: 

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Benjamin Banneker: Authored a total of six Almanacs starting in 1792 

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Granville T. Woods: Invented the communication systems for trains 

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Lewis Howard Latimer: No Edison without him! He invented the carbon wire which lights up the light bulb

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Garrett Morgan: Invented the traffic light and gas mask


Q: What does knowing the rich history of past Black Inventors do for you currently as a black man in a technical trade?

A: I know I come from an innovative, resilient, self-sufficient people. That, within itself, compels me to learn more and gives me the confidence to be able to do so. Knowing my history about technical inventions and the fact that at one point in time, Blacks dominated these trade professions, inspired me to learn a trade and jump into industry. Knowing that my ancestor’s heavily influenced the trade industry we see today gives me the confidence to pursue a trade present day in an industry where most young men like myself are a minority.

 


"Black Excellence has contributed to numerous medical, mathematical,  and astrological inventions as well as hundreds of technical inventions which all people benefit from and couldn’t live without." - Kyle Gathers


Q: What do you wish people knew more about in regards to Black Inventors and their influence on Technology

A:

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Gerald A Lawson: Invented the first video game system 

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Patricia Bath: Invented the laser that removes eye cataracts; It saves eyes and restores sight 

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Mark Dean: Computer Scientist; Helped create IBM computers 

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Marc Hannah: Designed 3D graphics in movies 

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James E. West: Invented the microphone; All original concepts used today 

 

Q: How can the average person educate themselves on this history? What reading suggestions, lectures, and movies do you recommend?

A: One should educate themselves by first understanding that everything traditionally taught should be questioned. An open mind is an only way to learn. I highly recommend watching the Hidden Colors film series, where black historians and scholars who have traveled the world discuss major historical events that are left out of the school’s history curriculum. This four-part series will open your mind to learning more.

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Q: Why do you feel it is important for others from different nationalities to know this history as well?

A: Black history is world history. Just the thought that there is a Black History Month is an injustice and only points out the fight to keep it hidden. Everyone should know there is no history without mentioning black history, the history and essence of African-Americans benefit all.  

 

 

Topics: News, Black History, Inventions, History, Science, Technology

In keeping with Franklin’s tradition as a journalist, we offer the BFIT Blog. Our weekly blog will keep you connected with our students, graduates, faculty, and staff and provide insight on issues related to technology, higher education, workforce development, philanthropy, and diversity.

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