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Celebrating Black History Month

Black History Month honors the contributions of African Americans and we at MVP Staffing are proud to celebrate the accomplishments within the Black community. I​ n honor of Black History month, we put together a list of unique Black History facts that you may not have known.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade Went On From 1500-1866

During the slave trade, more than 12 million African slaves were being shipped across the world. Contrary to popular belief, the United States became involved in the slave trade in the 1700s through the 1850s. During that time, more than 300 thousand Black were enslaved and sold throughout the U.S. Slavery was ended when the ratification of the 13 Amendment was created, and the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln, declaring that “all persons held as slaves are and henceforward shall be free.”

There Was An African American Automobile Company

Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery in 1833 in Virginia, but escaped slavery in 1861. After escaping he settled in Greenfield, OH. Patterson then went into the carriage-building business with business partner JP Lowe. Patterson bought out JP Lowe, and the company became known as CR Patterson and Sons Company. The company built 28 types of horse-drawn vehicles. After Patterson died in 1910, his son Frederick took over the business, turning it into an automobile business.

George Washington Carver Developed Over 100 Products That Helped Create Makeup, Dyes, Gasoline and More:

George Washington Carver was born a slave in 1864, but that did not stop him from becoming one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of all time. Carver’s primary interest was in using chemistry and scientific methodology to improve impoverished farmers’ lives in southeastern Alabama. Carver went to work to invent new food, industrial, and commercial products—including flour, sugar, vinegar, cosmetic products, paint, and ink—from these “lowly” plants. From peanuts alone, he developed hundreds of new products, thus creating a market for this inexpensive, soil-enriching legume. In 1921 Carver famously spoke before the House Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the nascent peanut industry to secure tariff protection and was after that known as the Peanut Man. When he first arrived at Tuskegee in 1896, the peanut was not even a recognized U.S. crop; by 1940, it had become one of the six leading crops in the nation and the second cash crop in the South (after cotton).

The Three-Light Traffic Light Was Invented by a Black Man in 1923

With only elementary school education, Black inventor (and son of an enslaved parent), ​Garrett Morgan​ came up with several significant inventions, including the improved sewing machine and the gas mask. However, one of Morgan’s most influential inventions was the improved traffic light. Without his innovation, drivers across the nation would be directed by a two-light system.

The First Self-Made Black Millionaire Was a Woman

In 1908 Madame CJ Walker started her own company manufacturing specialized hair products for African American women. The Madame CJ Walker Manufacturing Company employed thousands of women. In addition to on the job training in sales and grooming, Madame CJ Walker taught many women how to budget.

Black Wall Street Was Real

You may have heard of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre while watching Watchmen (if you have not seen the HBO series, check it out and thank us later), but you probably had no idea that the Tulsa Race Massacre happened. Nearly 100 years ago, in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, a group of wealthy Blacks created Black Wall Street. Black Wall Street was considered one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. In 1906 O.W Gurley, a wealthy African-American from Arkansas moved to Oklahoma and purchased over 40 acres of land that would only be sold to other African-Americans. Gurley wanted to create a safe haven and opportunity for those migrating from the harsh oppression in the South. May of 1921, reports of a white woman was raped by a Black man (which was later proved to be false), and instead of waiting to see how the situation would play out, Whites in the area rioted for two days—burning nearly 35 city blocks, killing 300 people and injuring 800. Nine thousand people became homeless, and what was once a sophisticated and unapologetically black community was now Black dispossession. Neither the survivors nor their families ever received reparations for lost property.

Black History Month Originally Only Lasted For One Week

Like most holidays, I am sure you wonder where on earth did Black History month come from? Carter Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History as an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent in 1915. In 1926, the association sponsored a national Negro History week to highlight Black excellence and culture. After learning about Negro Week, organizations and schools across the nation also started to celebrate the national holiday. By the late 1960s, Negro History Week slowly evolved to Black History Month during the civil rights movement. Black History Month was officially recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Otis Boykin Patented Over 20 Electronic Devices

Boykin improved the pacemaker and made everyday electronic devices, such as the television and computers, more efficient and affordable. After working in electronics, Boykin developed a particular interest in resistors. In 1959, he patented a “wire precision resistor,” which allowed specific amounts of electrical currents to flow for a specific purpose. Soon after, he created a new resistor that could withstand shifts in temperature and air pressure. It was a huge breakthrough that allowed many electronic devices to be made more cheaply and more reliably than ever. Boykin’s resistors were used in products from televisions and IBM computers to military missiles. Boykin also famously invented a control unit for the pacemaker, a device implanted in the body to help the heartbeat. Boykin’s invention allowed the pacemaker to be more precisely regulated.

Will Smith Boycotted The Grammys

In 1988, Will Smith and his right-hand man, Jazz from the hit show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, changed the music industry forever by winning the first Grammy ever given to a rap artist. Although the two men broke barriers and opened a lane for new creativity, the Grammys refused to televise the rap performance, so the pair decided to boycott the Grammys as a way to promote change within the music industry.

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