Posted: February 1, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual

I’ve never quite wholeheartedly accepted the ideals of Black History Month. I’m not saying I don’t agree with it, I’m just saying Black History shouldn’t be consolidated into just one month. The celebration of our numerous achievements should be an on-going, year ’round occasion. In any event, in honor of black history, I will take this opportunity to showcase the many influential African-Americans throughout history, both recognizable and not. I will re-familiarize many of you-as well as myself, with the many people and events that assisted the shaping of our outstanding culture.

The 1st person I will introduce you too this month, is Garrett Morgan.

March 4th 1877-August 27th 1963

Garrett Morgan is the primary subject of discussion this month, due to his obscurity. When I think about influential African-Americans, my mind tends too drift toward those who are not often discussed. So I feel it’s my duty to discuss the significance of those who are not widely recognized. I don’t intend to give you detailed biographies of each of these individuals. I know a lot of you are able to further investigate these people through online resources or libraries-in fact I encourage you too do so.

In about the 3rd grade, my class had to write book reports on influential African-Americans-in celebration of black history month. I was selected to write about Garrett Morgan. At the time my knowledge of black history was quite limited, so it was a wonderful realization to discover that a black man was capable of being such a integral part of history.

I discovered Morgan owned and operated his own sewing machine equipment and repair shop. Morgan also delve into to the print business by creating a newspaper called The Cleveland Call, now known as the Cleveland Post. A constant pioneer, Morgan began the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company, when he discovered a liquid created for clothes repair, could also be used to straighten hair! Straightened hair, a brief departure from more proud moments in African-American history, but an important part of our history nonetheless. He probably coined the phrase “Fried, died and laid to the side!” (Joke)

Aside from his apparent aptitude for business proprietorship, Garrett Morgan was quite the inventor. In fact, many of the sewing machines used in his repair company, were manufactured by way of his very own designs.


*The Safety Hood, now commonly known as the modern Gas Mask. One particular day, this safety hood allowed him to save numerous lives when an explosion trapped workers in an underground tunnel filled with toxic fumes.

*A early form of a Traffic Light. Credited as the first black man in Cleveland to own an automobile! Morgan noticed a distinct flaw in traffic signals, so he created his very own traffic light that allowed pedestrians to cross streets more safely.

*Back to the hair straightening. Morgan also made a black hair oil dye and a curved-tooth iron comb to assist in hair straightening process.

Thanks Garrett!

Garrett Morgan encompassed a exuberant amount of creativity throughout his entire life.  He dedicated the majority of this life to the progress and advancement of not only his people, but people in general. Through his inventions and influential business practices, its obvious; Morgan is indeed a pioneer. Morgan is a shining example of the importance of African-Americans in society-and a reason why black history should be a year ’round event.


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