CHRONICLES OF INVENTION AND INNOVATION
T he past isn’t predictive of the future. People look at trends and try to guess the next big thing, but reality is much more complicated. Great innovators and entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily looking at trends and trying to figure out what to do next. They’re looking at the world around them. They may notice that something can be done better, performed more efficiently, or improved. Some may have a spark of realization — an “aha” moment. February is Black History Month, which recognizes black innovators who changed the world. In the United States, black people had been exploited and oppressed for centuries, going back to before the country even existed. Despite oppression, countless black Americans rose up to change the world around them. They saw a way to make a difference and pursued their idea to the end. self-made African American businessperson in America in the early 1900s. She founded the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company — a company devoted to developing and marketing cosmetics and hair care products to black women. She founded the company in 1910, and by her death in 1919, both she and her company had become incredibly successful. Take, for example, Madam C.J. Walker, an African American entrepreneur who became the wealthiest
Otis Boykin was another African American person who left a lasting legacy. Boykin was known for innovations in circuit technology, and this led to major
Madam C.J. Walker out for a drive
to the cooling unit of early air conditioners. Well over a century after Latimer made an impact in the scientific community, his legacy continues. The list of black innovators could go on and on, and these three people are proof that no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome adversity and make a difference. It’s all about getting a few characteristics of entrepreneurialism and innovation just right, and it starts with your mindset. You have to believe in yourself and know you can accomplish what you push yourself to do. Establish goals and follow them through to the end. Anything is possible. As we honor great black Americans throughout history who created wealth for themselves and others, we can also look inward. What can we do to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others? What goals are you going to set for yourself to push to the next level and the next great accomplishment? The only thing standing in your way is you.
improvements in pacemaker technology. He lost his mother to heart failure when he was very young, and he credited this loss to motivating his extensive research into pacemakers. His research led to improved devices and saved many lives. At the time of his death in 1982, he had 27 patents to his name, and many of his inventions live on in today’s technologies.
Lewis Latimer, an inventor and engineer who worked with Thomas Edison, was another African American innovator. Latimer invented the carbon filament, which was crucial in
the development of the lightbulb. (Edison’s early lightbulbs relied on paper filaments). He also worked with Alexander Graham Bell and helped Bell draft a patent for the telephone. Latimer was instrumental in the development of the air conditioner, too. In fact, he owned a patent related
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