Black Inventors and Innovators - Garrett Morgan
Garrett Morgan was born March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky and died August 27, 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio. Morgan was one of 11 children. At the age of 14 Morgan decided to move to Cincinnati for a better education and then shortly after that Morgan moved to Cleveland for work. Morgan worked as a handyman learning all about the sewing machine. Soon he would open up his own sewing machine store where Morgan would sell new machines and repair old ones.
Morgan’s first invention would come when he was trying to reduce the friction that the needle on a sewing machine caused from moving so fast. Morgan was trying to create a liquid that would reduce the friction to stop the needle from burning the fabric. What Morgan actually developed was the first human hair straightener; G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Cream.
A few years after creating the hair straightener cream, Morgan came up with another invention meant to help fire fighters to be able to breathe freely while surrounded by thick smoke and gas. Morgan invented the safety hood which we now know as the gas mask and although it was meant for firemen his invention would help others who worked around noxious fumes, gases, smoke or dust such as engineers, chemists and others. Sales of the gas mask were good but the true test of the invention would come when there was an underground tunnel explosion. With workers trapped underground Morgan with his gas mask and the help of others was able to rescue many of the workers who would have otherwise died. News of this event increased the sale of the gas masks. Fire Engineers and the United States Army were among a few of the buyers of the gas mask. Even though he had numerous sales of his invention, some orders were cancelled when the purchasers found out that Morgan was Black; a minor setback for Morgan.
After the invention of the gas mask Morgan went in a completely different direction after seeing a traffic accident between an automobile and a horse and carriage where the driver of the automobile was knocked unconscious and the horse had to be destroyed. Because of the accident Morgan knew that something had to be done for safety on the roads. Morgan created an automatic way of directing traffic without the need of a human. Morgan created the automatic traffic signal to direct the flow of traffic. Today’s traffic lights are based on Morgan’s original invention.
Morgan’s inventions were truly diverse in nature however Morgan seemed to focus on the safety of others. Morgan was an inventor and an innovator looking out for the welfare of others.