Early life Born in a log cabin in Demopolis, Alabama, to Tom and Rosa McDonald Gaston, but he grew up in his grandparents home, Joe and Idella Gaston. He moved to Birmingham in 1905 with the Loveman family, who employed his mother as a cook. He served in the army in France in World War I, then went to work in the mines run by Tennessee Coal & Iron Co. in Fairfield, Alabama. He hit on the plan of selling lunches to his fellow miners, then branched into loaning money to them at twenty-five percent interest. While still working at the mine he began offering burial insurance to co-workers and to the community Smith&Gaston.
Business growth Driven out of Fairfield because of his father-in-law's political differences with the mayor, he bought property on the edge of Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham, where he moved the Smith & Gaston business, in 1938. Gaston extended his business holdings throughout the neighborhood and beyond, opening a savings and loan in the early 1950s, the first black-owned financial institution in Birmingham in more than forty years. Smith & Gaston sponsored gospel music programs on local radio stations and launched a quartet of its own. In 1954 Gaston built the A.G. Gaston motel on the site adjoining Kelly Ingram park where the mortuary had once stood.
Heavyweight boxing champ who patented designs for the wrench.
Jack Johnson was born John Arthur Johnson on March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas. Johnson boxed professionally from 1897 to 1928, and boxed in exhibition matches until 1945. During his boxing career, Jack Johnson fought 114 fights, winning 80 matches, 45 by knockouts. He first won the heavyweight title by knocking out champion Tommy Burns in 1908, and held on that title until April 5, 1915. Johnson was knocked out by Jess Willard in the 26th round during the World Championship fight in Havana. Jack Johnson received bad publicity by the press for his two marriages, both to Caucasian women. Due to the racist attitudes of the times, interracial marriages were prohibited in most of America. Johnson was convicted in 1912 of violating the Mann Act by transporting his wife across state lines before their marriage and was sentenced to a year in prison. While out on appeal Jack Johnson escaped fearing for his safety. Posing as a member of a black baseball team, he fled to Canada and later Europe. Jack Johnson remained a fugitive for seven years. Johnson defended his heavyweight championship three times in Paris before his fight to Jess Willard. In 1920, Jack Johnson decided to return to the United States to serve his sentence. After his release from prison, Jack Johnson's boxing career declined. To make ends meet, Johnson worked in vaudeville even appearing with a trained flea act.
Lonnie Johnson (born October 6, 1949) is best known as the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun. The top selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992, over 40 million Super Soakers have generated over $200 million in sales since 1990. Today, many websites are devoted to them. Johnson is president and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., Inc., a technology development company, and its spin off companies, Excellatron Solid State, LLC; Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, LLC; and Johnson Real Estate Investments, LLC. Articles on Lonnie Johnson have appeared in numerous publications including Time Magazine, the New York Times, and Inventor’s Digest. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Alliance for Children, an organization which serves as an informed and influential voice to protect the rights and interests of Georgia’s less fortunate children. He is a Board member of the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth National Bank. In his hometown of Marietta, Georgia, February 25, 1994 was declared "Lonnie G. Johnson Day" in his honor.
He built one of the first watches made in America, a wooden pocket watch
On November 9 1731, Benjamin Banneker was born in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland. He was the descendent of slaves, however, Banneker was born a freeman. At that time the law dictated that if your mother was a slave then you were a slave, and if she was a freewomen then you were a free person. Banneker's grandmother, Molly Walsh was a bi-racial English immigrant and indentured servant who married an African slave named Banna Ka, who had been brought to the Colonies by a slave trader. Molly had served seven years as an indentured servant before she acquired and worked on her own small farm. Molly Walsh purchased her future husband Banna Ka and another African to work on her farm. The name Banna Ka was later changed to Bannaky and then changed to Banneker. Benjamin's mother Mary Banneker was born free. Benjamin's father Rodger was a former slave who had bought his own freedom before marrying Mary.
Jan E. Matzeliger
He invented the first ever shoe making machine. It could make up to 700 hundred pairs of shoes in a ten hour work day. Humans could only make 50. He first used cigar boxes and metal scraps to create his machine, but everyone always laughed at his idea. When it did work everyone wanted to buy the machine from him, but he said no. Finally in 1883 he got a patent to build his machine. He needed money to build the machine so he didn't live healthily in order to save up money and because of that he died in 1889 at the age of 36 due to his poor health
George E Alcorn, Jr.
An x-ray spectrometer assists scientists in identifying a material by producing an x-ray spectrum of it, allowing it to be examined visually. This is especially advantageous when the material is not able to be broken down physically.
George Edward Alcorn, Jr. was born on March 22, 1940, to George and Arletta Dixon Alcorn. His father was an auto mechanic who sacrificed so Alcorn and his brother could get an education. Alcorn attended Occidental College in Pasadena, California, where he maintained an excellent academic record while earning eight letters in baseball and football. Alcorn graduated with a B.A. in physics in 1962, and in 1963 he completed a master's degree in nuclear physics from Howard University. During the summers of 1962 and 1963, Alcorn worked as a research engineer for the Space Division of North American Rockwell, computing trajectories and orbital mechanics for missiles. A NASA grant supported Alcorn's research on negative ion formation during the summers of 1965 and 1966. In 1967 he earned his doctorate from Howard University in atomic and molecular physics. After earning his Ph.D., Alcorn spent twelve years in industry. He was senior scientist at Philco-Ford, senior physicist at Perker-Elmer, and advisory engineer at IBM Corporation. In 1973, Alcorn was chosen to be IBM Visiting Professor in Electrical Engineering at Howard University, and he has held positions at that university ever since, rising to the rank of full professor. Alcorn is also a full professor in the department of electrical engineering at the University of the District of Columbia, where he has taught courses ranging from advanced engineering mathematics to microelectronics.
George W. Carver
One of the world's most important scientists, George Washington Carver, spent his formative years in Kansas. Born the son of slaves around 1864, Carver and his mother were purchased by a Missouri farm couple named Carver. Opposed to slavery, the Carvers gave Mary her freedom and allowed her to take their last name. While George was still a baby, his mother was kidnapped by Confederate raiders and never seen again.
It is rare to find a man of the caliber of George Washington Carver. A man who would decline an invitation to work for a salary of more than $100,000 a year (almost a million today) to continue his research on behalf of his countrymen. Agricultural chemist, Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Among the listed items that he suggested to southern farmers to help them economically were his recipes and improvements to/for: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. Three patents were issued to Carver. George Washington Carver was born in 1864 near Diamond Grove, Missouri on the farm of Moses Carver. He was born into difficult and changing times near the end of the Civil War. The infant George and his mother kidnapped by Confederate night-raiders and possibly sent away to Arkansas. Moses Carver found and reclaimed George after the war but his mother had disappeared forever. The identity of Carver's father remains unknown, although he believed his father was a slave from a neighboring farm. Moses and Susan Carver reared George and his brother as their own children. It was on the Moses' farm where George first fell in love with nature, where he earned the nickname 'The Plant Doctor' and collected in earnest all manner of rocks and plants.
Dr. Patricia Bath
Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist from New York, but living in Los Angeles when she received her patent, became the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. Patricia Bath's patent (no. 4,744,360), a method for removing cataract lenses, transformed eye surgery, using a laser device making the procedure more accurate. Patricia Bath patentPatricia Bath’s passionate dedication to the treatment and prevention of blindness led her to develop the Cataract Laserphaco Probe. The probe, patented in 1988, is designed to use the power of a laser to quickly and painlessly vaporize cataracts from patients’ eyes, replacing the more common method of using a grinding, drill-like device to remove the afflictions. With another invention, Bath was able to restore sight to people who had been blind for over 30 years. Patricia Bath also holds patents for her invention in Japan, Canada, and Europe. Patricia Bath graduated from the Howard University School of Medicine in 1968 and completed specialty training in ophthalmology and corneal transplant at both New York University and Columbia University. In 1975, Bath became the first African-American woman surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center and the first woman to be on the faculty of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. She is the founder and first president of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Patricia Bath was elected to Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1988 and elected as Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine in 1993.
Thomas Jennings was the first African American to receive a patent, on March 3, 1821 (U.S. patent3306x). Thomas Jennings' patent was for a dry-cleaning process called "dry scouring". The first money Thomas Jennings earned from his patent was spent on the legal fees (my polite way of saying enough money to purchase) necessary to liberate his family out of slavery and support the abolitionist cause. Under the United States patent laws of 1793 and 1836, both slaves and freedman could patent their inventions. However, in 1857, a slave-owner named Oscar Stuart patented a "double cotton scraper" that was invented by his slave. Historical records only show the real inventor's name as being Ned. Stuart's reasoning for his actions was that, "the master is the owner of the fruits of the labor of the slave both manual and intellectual". In 1858, the U.S. patent office changed the patent laws, in response to the Oscar Stuart vs Ned case, in favor of Oscar Stuart. Their reasoning was that slaves were not citizens, and could not be granted patents. But surprising in 1861, the Confederate States of America passed a law granting patent rights to slaves. In 1870, the U.S.government passed a patent law giving all American men including blacks the rights to their inventions. Thomas Jennings was born in 1791. He was 30 years old when he was granted a patent for a dry cleaning process. Thomas Jennings was a free tradesman and operated a dry cleaning business in New York City. His income went mostly to his abolitionist activities. In 1831, Thomas Jennings became assistant secretary for the First Annual Convention of the People of Color in Philadelphia, PA. Source