Black History Month:  Celebrating African American Inventors

Initially dubbed Negro History Week by African American historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, this is the month when Americans officially celebrate the accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made to U.S. history. In 1976, the celebration was renamed Black History Month and is celebrated in February to honor Frederick Douglass, famous abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights, and Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, who were both born in February.

As supporters of both science and invention, we’re sharing some of our favorite African American inventor stories below. You can encourage your own little inventor with an engineering toy from Brackitz!

A Few of Our Favorite African American Inventors Throughout History


Born into slavery, George Washington CarverB, a.k.a "The Peanut Man" rose to become one of the most prominent scientists of his time. As the head of Tuskegee Institute’s agricultural department, the plant biologist invented more than 300 different products derived from peanuts. In addition to bringing  peanut-based make up, medicine, paints, food products, and other products to market, Carver’s peanut-based products made good use of the low-demand peanut crops saddling Southern sharecroppers, contributing positively to the nation’s economy.

No one knows that necessity is the mother invention better than Madam C.J. Walker, one of the
country’s first self-made female millionaires. Born Sarah Breedlove, C.J. suffered from early hair loss, prompting her to invent and promote a line of African American hair products and establish her own laboratory, factory, and beauty school. Walker was also a known philanthropist, contributing vast amounts to scholarship programs, elderly housing, the NAACP, and other programs.


We all feel a little bit safer at home, thanks to Marie Van Brittan Brown’s invention! Creator of the first closed-circuit television security system, the predecessor of the modern-day home security system, Brown’s version even allowed users to unlock their front doors with a remote control. In 1966!

More recently, NASA aerospace engineer Lonnie Johnson, who worked on both the Galileao Jupiter Prove and the Mars Observer, invented the Super Soaker! A tinkerer since childhood, Lonnie and his father built all kinds of toys when he was a child, including a lawnmower-powered go-kart they raced on the highway!

Building toys like Brackitz are a great way to encourage creativity, curiosity, and experimentation, the foundation of an inventive spirit like those featured here. Order your Brackitz set today!

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