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Black History Month - African American Inventor

Every time you travel down a clean street, take a breath of fresh air, or use public transportation, you should thank an inventor. While you’ve probably grown so accustomed to these luxuries, transportation wouldn’t be the same without the following African American inventors and their research. In honor of Black History Month, learn more about these four important inventions that transformed the transportation industry as we know it!

1. Elbert R. Robinson refined the electric railway trolley.
In 1839, Elbert Robinson, a resident of Nashville, TN, received a patent for improvements in trolleys for electric railways. His invention focused primarily on the trolley wheels, implementing a new design to secure wheels to the wire when the trolley rounded curves or went down hills.

2. Charles Brooks invented the first self-propelled street sweepers.
In the days of Charles Brooks, the main method of transportation resulted in piles of horse manure along the street. As you can imagine, it was not a pleasant-smelling situation. While the horse-drawn street sweeper had already been invented, Brooks wanted to improve upon it. His design utilized a truck-like frame with revolving brushes that pushed waste into a bin, and he received a patent for his invention in 1896, reports WorldSweeper.com.

3. Frederick McKinley Jones developed air conditioning for truck and railroad transportation of food.
After running away at the age of 11 to live on his own, Frederick Jones used his spare time between odd jobs to teach himself mechanical and electrical engineering, which would lead him to a life of profitable inventions. In the 1930s, he designed air conditioning for vehicles carrying perishable foods, writes Biography.com. So you can thank him next time you purchase a frozen pizza or a pint of ice cream at your grocery store!

4. Meredith Gourdine developed the exhaust purification system.
When Meredith Gourdine’s father told him that an education could spare him from a life of manual labor, he changed the course of his son’s life. After graduating from Cornell and opening his own research laboratory, Gourdine went on to develop an exhaust purification system for cars in 1967. His invention is now referred to as the catalytic converter and it helps to reduce harmful emissions into the environment, minimizing the pollution caused by our vehicles.

African American inventors have made huge contributions to the world of yesterday and today, from the automotive industry to the transportation industry as a whole. During Black History Month, it’s important to honor their influence and contributions. At Direct Auto Insurance, we’re more than a car insurance company. We’re members of your community.

Want more information about important black Americans in government, business, and education? Check out our YouTube series!