Black Inventors Who Don't Get the Credit They Deserve
Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve

Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve

Shannon Quinn - February 15, 2023

Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve
Because of Percy Julian’s medical research, we have a lot of new hormone and steroid compounds. Credit: Science History

Chemist Percy Lavon Julian Invented Several Medical Applications With His Research

Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneering African American chemist, was born in 1899 in Montgomery, Alabama. He broke barriers as the first African American to earn a PhD in Chemistry from an American university. Focused on plant-based chemistry, Julian achieved great success in isolating and synthesizing compounds from plants, such as hormones and steroids. He utilized his research to found several companies that manufactured and sold these compounds for medical and industrial use. Despite facing significant challenges and discrimination, Julian remained dedicated to his work and left a lasting impact on the field of chemistry and the African American community.

Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve
Because of inventor Shirley Jackson, we have caller ID. Credit: Black Doctor

We Have Shirley Jackson to Thank For Caller ID

Shirley Jackson made history as the first African American woman to earn a doctorate at MIT. Her groundbreaking telecommunications research led to the development of several important products, including the touch-tone phone, portable fax, fiber optic cables, and caller ID. Not many people use landlines anymore. But for those of us who remember the invention of caller ID, that was truly revolutionary. You could finally see who was calling, and choose to ignore them if you like. Without her, phones may have never advanced to what they are today. Recognized for her exceptional achievements, President Barack Obama appointed her as co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory in 2014.

Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve
Because of Lisa Gelobter, we have meme culture. Credit: Forbes

Lisa Gelobter Invented the Technology to Make GIFs Possible

Lisa Gelobter actively leads a long and successful career in the tech industry, because of her innovations. She is known for her role in the development of various digital media and entertainment technologies. Gelobter has held crucial positions at numerous prominent tech companies such as, BET, and Hulu, and has also served as a trusted advisor and mentor for many tech startups. In addition to her achievements in technology, Gelobter strongly advocates for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry and actively works to enhance the representation of women and underrepresented minorities. Every time you text someone a GIF, you should thank Lisa Gelobter. Because without her, the technology would have never been invented.

Black Inventors Who Don’t Get the Credit They Deserve
Because of Dr. Patricia Bath, it is now possible to remove cataracts. Credit: History Collection

Dr. Patricia E. Bath Invented the Laserphaco Probe to Treat Cataracts

As a pioneering African American ophthalmologist and inventor, Dr. Patricia E. Bath made significant contributions to the field of medicine. Born in 1942, she became the first African American woman to complete a residency in ophthalmology. She was also the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. With her innovative spirit, she invented the Laserphaco Probe. This revolutionized the field of cataract surgery. Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Bath passionately dedicated herself to increasing access to quality eye care for all. (Particularly those in underserved communities.) She received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to the field of ophthalmology. Sadly, she passed away in 2019. But her legacy continues to inspire future generations of medical professionals and inventors.

How did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

14 Black Inventors You Probably Didn’t Know About. Pamela Rosario Pérez. Think Growth. 2017.

8 Black Inventors Who Made Daily Life Easier. Thaddeus Morgan. History. 2019.

No, a Black man didn’t invent the light bulb. But Lewis Howard Latimer made it better. Leah Asmelash.CNN. 2020.

15 African-American Inventors to Remember This Black History Month and Beyond. Oprah Daily. 2023.