As we observe Black History Month this February, MadeinAmerica.com honors African American innovators that have been trailblazers in the manufacturing and tech sectors. These heroes of the past and present helped to shape the world we live in today.
Charles Richard Patterson (1833-1910)
Patterson was a former slave who became an inventor and carriage company entreprenuer. Shortly after becoming free, he started working at a carriage maker company in Ohio. He later founded the C.R. Patterson & Sons Carriage Company, the only African American owned and operated automobile company. After his death, his sons continued the company for several years, creating their two-door coup horseless carriage.
Etta Falconer (1933-2002)
Falconer made history as one of the first Black women to earn her Master’s Degree in Computer Science. From there, she advocated for Black women in mathematics, creating the NASA Women in Science Program, the NASA Undergraduate Science Research Program, and the College Honors Program. She influenced many African American women to choose careers in science and math.
Lawrence is an electrical engineer who is renowned for his work in global telecommunications. He has paved the way for developments in broadband, DSL, HDTV technologies, and data transfer. Overall, he holds more than 20 U.S. and international patents and has several books focused on modern communication.
Marian Croak is the developer of voiceover IP, the service that converts your voice or other sounds into digital signal that travels through the internet. In other words, it allows users to make and recieve telephone calls over the internet. She is a Vice President of Engineering at Google, and previously served as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AT&T Labs, where she was responsible for a team of over 2,000 engineers.
Alicia Boler Davis
Davis is the Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing at General Motors Company, and was named the 2018 Black Engineer of the Year. She joined General Motors in 1994 as a manufacturing engineer, and later became the first Black woman to become a plant manager. She says, “No one said ‘We don’t have women running our manufacturing plants,’ even though at the time, we didn’t. I said, ‘You know what? I think I want to run this place. At the time, it wasn’t like I saw women doing it. I just felt like it could happen’.”
These are just a few of the many accomplished Black innovators of the past and present–this month and every month, we celebrate their contributions.