Black Inventors of yesteryear may save Ukrainian lives today

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Published: Last Updated on
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Black inventors have manifested many of the world’s most practical, resourceful, and life-saving creations, and to properly tell their story takes longer than 28 days. In fact, Black invention finds itself in the backdrop of this year’s most frightening news story: The War in Ukraine.

Even presently as Ukrainians defend themselves from Russian invaders, they may be able to utilize technology invented by Dr. Betty Harris. In 1986, she patented a simple and extremely sensitive spot test for the presence of 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (TATB). Her innovation allowed the military to quickly ascertain the presence of potentially explosive materials.

Black inventors leave the world better off.

Garrett Morgan developed what he called the ‘safety hood’ after noticing how many firefighters were killed by smoke on the job. The United States Army utilized a slightly redesigned Morgan gas mask during World War I and without knowing how far Putin will push this war, they may become necessary in 2022 once again.

Bone-chilling photos and reports of shelling over Ukrainian cities detail the uphill battle President Volodymyr Zelensky and his dedicated countrymen are facing. Their nation has been pulverized over the last week and without a clear end in sight or direct western intervention, civilian and military casualties will likely increase.

However, for those who are wounded or amputees, because of Black inventor Bessie Blount, they may be able to feed themselves amid the onslaught. In World War II she assisted soldiers who had lost the use of their legs or their arms before inventing a rubber tubed electronic device that dispenses bites of food without the person needing to use their hands.

Black inventor Charles Richard Drew discovered a method of separating red blood cells from plasma and then storing the two components separately. This new process allowed blood to be stored for more than a week, which was the maximum at that time.

After supervising blood preservation and delivery in World War II, he was later appointed director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank, a blood bank for the U.S. Army and Navy that served as the model for blood banks today.

With the horrors of war still being waged in Ukraine, these Black inventions can aid them as they’ve done over the course of our world’s most violent history.

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