"It is pretty well settled that the
city is the Negro's great contribution to civilization, for it was in Africa
where the first cities grew up." E. Haldeman-Julius
"Those piles of ruins which you see
in that narrow valley watered by the Nile, are the remains of opulent cities,
the pride of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia. … There a people, now forgotten,
discovered while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and
sciences. A race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and
frizzled hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and
religious systems which still govern the universe." Count Volney
"The accident of the predominance of
white men in modern times should not give us supercilious ideas about color or
persuade us to listen to superficial theories about the innate superiority of
the white-skinned man. Four thousand years ago, when civilization was already
one or two thousand years old, white men were just a bunch of semi-savages on
the outskirts of the civilized world. If there had been anthropologists in
Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, they would have pronounced the white race obviously
inferior, and might have discoursed learnedly on the superior germ-plasm or
glands of colored folk." Joseph McCabe
|Born into a family of free blacks in
Maryland, Banneker learned the rudiments of reading,
writing, and arithmetic from his grandmother and a
Quaker schoolmaster. Later he taught himself advanced
astronomy. He is best known for publishing an
almanac based on his astronomical calculations.
|Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Cole was the second black woman to graduate from medical
school (1867). She joined Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the
first white woman physician, in New York and taught
hygiene and childcare to families in poor neighborhoods.
|Edward Alexander Bouchet
|Born in New Haven, Connecticut,
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.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
|Williams was born in Pennsylvania and
attended medical school in Chicago, where he received
his M.D. in 1883. He founded the Provident Hospital in
Chicago in 1891, and he performed the first successful
open heart surgery in 1893.
George Washington Carver
|Born into slavery in Missouri, Carver
later earned degrees from Iowa Agricultural College. The
director of agricultural research at the
Tuskegee Institute from 1896 until his death, Carver
developed hundreds of applications for farm products
important to the economy of the South, including the
peanut, sweet potato, soybean, and pecan.
Charles Henry Turner
|A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Turner
received a B.S. (1891) and M.S. (1892) from the
University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. (1907) from the
University of Chicago. A noted authority on the behavior
of insects, he was the first researcher to prove that
insects can hear.
Ernest Everett Just
|Originally from Charleston, South
Carolina, Just attended Dartmouth College and the
University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in
zoology in 1916. Just's work on cell biology took him to
marine laboratories in the U.S. and Europe and led him
to publish more than 50 papers.
|Iowa-born Alexander attended Iowa
State University and earned a civil engineering degree
in 1912. While working for an engineering firm, he
designed the Tidal Basin Bridge in Washington, D.C.
Later he formed his own company, designing Whitehurst
Freeway in Washington, D.C. and an airfield in Tuskegee,
Alabama, among other projects.
Roger Arliner Young
|Ms. Young was born in Virginia and
attended Howard University, University of Chicago, and
University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Ph.D. in
zoology in 1940. Working with her mentor, Ernest E.
Just, she published a number of important studies.
|Dr. Charles Richard Drew
|Born in Washington, D.C., Drew earned
advanced degrees in medicine and surgery from McGill
University in Montreal, Quebec, in 1933 and from
Columbia University in 1940. He is particularly noted
for his research in blood plasma and for setting up the
first blood bank.
|Thomas L. Jennings
|A tailor in New York City, 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.
|Born the son of a French planter and
a slave in New Orleans, Rillieux was educated in France.
Returning to the U.S., he developed an evaporator for
refining sugar, which he patented in 1846. Rillieux's
evaporation technique is still used in the sugar
industry and in the manufacture of soap and other
|A slave, Bradley was employed at a
printing office and later at the Annapolis Naval
Academy, where he helped set up scientific experiments.
In the 1840s he developed a steam engine for a war ship.
Unable to patent his work, he sold it and with the
proceeds purchased his freedom.
|The son of escaped slaves from
Kentucky, McCoy was born in Canada and educated in
Scotland. Settling in Detroit, Michigan, he invented a
lubricator for steam engines (patented 1872) and
established his own manufacturing company. During his
lifetime he acquired 57 patents.
|Lewis Howard Latimer
|Born in Chelsea, Mass., Latimer
learned mechanical drawing while working for a Boston
patent attorney. He later invented an electric lamp and
a carbon filament for light bulbs (patented 1881, 1882).
Latimer was the only African-American member of Thomas
Edison's engineering laboratory.
|Granville T. Woods
|Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, and
later settled in Cincinnati. Largely self-educated, he
was awarded more than 60 patents. One of his most
important inventions was a telegraph that allowed moving
trains to communicate with other trains and train
stations, thus improving railway efficiency and safety.
Madame C.J. Walker
|Widowed at 20, Louisiana-born Sarah
Breedlove Walker supported herself and her daughter as a
washerwoman. In the early 1900s she developed a hair
care system and other beauty products. Her business,
headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, amassed a
fortune, and she became a generous patron of many black
|Garrett Augustus Morgan
|Born in Kentucky, Morgan invented a
gas mask (patented 1914) that was used to protect
soldiers from chlorine fumes during World War I. Morgan
also received a patent (1923) for a traffic signal that
featured automated STOP and GO signs. Morgan's invention
was later replaced by traffic lights.
|Frederick McKinley Jones
|Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
An experienced mechanic, he invented a self-starting gas
engine and a series of devices for movie projectors.
More importantly, he invented the first automatic
refrigeration system for long-haul trucks (1935). Jones
was awarded more than 40 patents in the field of
David Crosthwait, Jr.
|Born in Nashville, Tennessee,
Crosthwait earned a B.S. (1913) and M.S. (1920) from
Purdue University. An expert on heating, ventilation,
and air conditioning, he designed the heating system for
Radio City Music Hall in New York. During his lifetime
he received some 40 U.S. patents relating to HVAC