THANK AN INVENTOR - BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Stop! Ok, go. With only an 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 regularly used inventions was the improved traffic light. Without his innovation, drivers across the nation would be directed by a two-light system.
Thanks to the successes of his other inventions, Morgan became the first Black person in Cleveland, Ohio to own a car. As a motorist, he witnessed a severe car accident at an intersection in the city. In response, he decided to expand on the current traffic light by adding a “yield” component, warning oncoming drivers of an impending stop. He took out the patent for the creation in 1923, and it was granted to him the following year.