In the following weeks of the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd cities across America have been in a state of unrest. Protesters took to flooding the streets to express their rage on the injustice of Police Brutality on African Americans across the country. Unease and anxiety is felt all around so please take a break if you need to!
Let me just again reiterate that it is absolutely okay to step away from everything. Take some time to have a breather and do something that makes you happy. “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” So it’s imperative to prioritize your mental health. If you find yourself uneasy or overwhelmed step away from social media and the T.V’s.
To continue being progressive, I decided on a lighter topic to share for this week. I’ve shared my experience in being black in America, we’ve learned about the importance of Racial Disparities discussions. Now I want to talk about the influence of Black communities in America.
Black Inventors and the change of American Life
While there are many Black inventors through out US history. I will be highlighting 5 inventors and their impacts on American way of life.
Marie Van Brittan Brown: Brown created the security system which has greatly enhanced safety measures. We are all fortunate enough to be able to receive the benefits of the invention of security systems daily.
Otis Boykin: Otis Boykin is known for a quite a list of inventions, Boykin is most known for the pacemaker. The invention has changed not only the science field but also the medical field. The pacemaker has saved countless lives.
Charles Drew: I think this invention has to be one of my favorites. Drew is the great mind that gave us Blood Banks and the Bloodmobile. Created at probably one of the most urgent of times, the blood bank played a key role in World War II. Can you imagine life without blood banks and the impact it has?
Garret Morgan: Morgan is the inventor behind the gas mask. Morgan’s invention of the gas mask is important because it saved lives during the World Wars. It continues to help firefighters as they run into burning buildings. How ironic that the gas masks protecting police departments across the country as they use gas tears on protesters, who are marching for Police Brutality on African Americans, was created by a Black man.
Mary and Mildred Davidson: We as women are truly blessed for this invention. The Davidson sister’s are the brilliant minds behind the sanitary belts. Without the creation of the sanitary belts we would not be able to have the great hygiene products we have today. Thank you to the Davidson sister’s for leading the way and easing periods for women in a time where talk of menstrual cycles were considered taboo.
Milestones influenced by Black Communities
13th Amendment: The 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in 1865.
14th Amendment: The 14th Amendment defines citizenship and grants “equal protection” to those who were enslaved.
15th Amendment: The 15th Amendment guaranteed every citizen has a right to vote. They will not be denied on the basis of ” race, color or condition of servitude.”
African Americans – WWII : Over 3 million Black Americans volunteered to fight in World War II. Inspired by the “Four Freedoms” speech by President Franklin D Roosevelt, although those four freedoms hadn’t really applied to them. They battled two wars, one against Germany/Japan and their allies. The second right there in the divided Armed forces. In July 1948, desegregation within the US Armed forces under an executive order given by President Harry S Truman.
Jackie Robinson- Well known Professional Baseball Player Jackie Robinson changed the sporting world. He was the first Black Baseball player to ever grace the MLB. He became a highly admired public figure for the Black community.
Brown V Board of Education: One of the most notable cases in history. The US Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools violated the 14th amendment.
1964 Civil Rights Act: The CRA of 1964 is the most supporting legislation of racial equality. The act enables “the federal government more power to protect citizens against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.” It authorized “desegregation in most public places and established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ensuring equal treatment of minorities in the work environment.” The act also “removed biased registrations requirements and procedures guaranteeing equal voting rights and authorizing the US Office of Education to provide aid to assist with desegregation in schools.”
The Voting Rights Act of 1965: On local and state levels there still remained legal barriers that blocked Black citizens from voting. The VRA ensured that literacy tests as a requirement for voting became illegal.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968: Addressed “racial discrimination in the sales, rental or financing of housing units.”
Learning from history
The United States would look a lot different if these Black Inventors, leaders, activist and many others had not broke down the barriers that prevented the Black community the liberties of life. Their actions not only benefited those of the Black Community but other minorities as well. We still have a long way to go, but seeing how far we come is a great reminder of what we can do.
These achievements did not just come from voting, they did not just come about by being peaceful and submissive. They were achieved with rebellions, sit ins, disturbing of the peace and being very vocal about the injustices. When people speak softly to you do you hear them all time? Most likely not and that it why we need to be loud. We need to make our voices heard just as those before us did.
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