Black Women Can, Have, & Always Will

Black women have been a driving force since the beginning of time; everything from motherhood, wives, holding down the household by cooking and cleaning, to creating long lasting inventions, paving ways for other generations and becoming trailblazing, natural born revolutionaries!

Black women’s incredible contributions have been largely overlooked in modern society, and I am not just talking about inventions, I am talking bonafide entrepreneurs; simple things that wouldn’t exist without the brain of a Black woman.

These women developed things to better the lives of their families and the Black community and somehow bettered the lives of everyone in the Nation! Nowadays when we think of strong, Black women who have made their mark on the world, we think of Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or Harriet Tubman and even Africa’s first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It’s important to see women that look like us that have contributed highly to society and it’s important that our daughters see it, too. Not only is it necessary to see what they have accomplished, but to see how they accomplished it, especially during times where women were very much oppressed and had little to no rights.

Here is a list of remarkable women of color who have led, fought, and pushed through the prejudices of this world and still managed to accomplish the unimaginable and transformed history for a better future.

,Dr. Marian Croak

Otherwise known as, “Little Miss Fix It,” she is the reason we are able to communicate with our loved ones using WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype, Zoom and Google Voice. Croak is currently Vice President of Engineering at Google, but she is best known for her developments while she was an engineer at AT&T’s Bell Labs. Her research led to the Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, used in a a lot of applications. We know this technology as voice and text messaging on cell phones. She has over 200 patents but her greatest achievement was the text-to-vote which you may have seen in the first season of the popular television series American Idol where people could text their votes for who they wanted to win. She also invented the text to donate when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, which was also used to provide relief for Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Today, she continues to provide internet access in other countries, pushing humanitarian projects like Project Loon and helping with other disasters around the world.

Lyda Newman

This beautiful sister may not have invented the actual hairbrush, but she sure did make incredible improvements that made the hairbrush more desirable by everyone, especially Black women. She patented the first hairbrush with synthetic bristles instead of those early bristles made by man from boar bristle and horsehair. These old brushes only worked well with white people’s hair, so she was determined to make something for us. Lyda was already a pretty good and well known hair dresser and designed the brush to give easier ventilation. According to Newman, impurities pulled from the scalp or hair would pass through the openings in the brush and it also made it much easier to clean the brush out. The handle was also detachable from the brush to ease the washing out of the dirt.

“The object of the invention is to provide a new and improved hair brush which is simple and durable in construction, very effective when in use, and arranged to permit of conveniently cleaning the brush whenever desired.”

She finally got her patent on Nov. 15, 1898 after which brushes could not only be bought and gifted, but all manufacturers could now make these for everyone.

Newman was also a women’s rights activist and was one of the organizers of an African American branch of the Woman Suffrage Party, which fought to give women the legal right to vote. Newman helped her neighborhood raise awareness of the cause and organized suffrage meetings in her voting district. Even important white suffragists of the Woman Suffrage Party worked with Newman’s group to help bring voting rights to all of New York’s female residents. Unfortunately, there is little else really known about her later life, even her actual birth and death dates. However, we do know she is a Black woman pioneer and thanks to her, the Black population can have something for us.

Dr. Patrice Bath

Known as one of the best medical inventors in America, Dr. Patrice Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. Since she was young she has dedicated her life to helping better eye sight. She conduced research for blindness prevention and treatments.

This led to her accomplishments in developing a device for cataract surgery. The incredible thing about Bath is that during her early studies, she found that Black people’s blindness doubled more than whites because Black people didn’t have efficient ophthalmic care. She started what she calls the community ophthalmology, which is used all around the world. Community ophthalmology provides eye health care to people in their neighborhoods at an affordable price, promoting “people-centered” care instead of “disease-centered” care. This has saved the sight of thousands! She even got surgeons at the Harlem Hospitals Eye Clinic to perform eye surgery for free on patients. The first major eye operation was performed in 1970 at Harlem Hospital because of her.

In 1981, Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, a surgical tool that uses a laser to vaporize cataracts via a tiny, 1-millimeter insertion into a patient’s eye. After the Laserphaco Probe removes a cataract, the patient’s lens can be removed and a replacement lens inserted. Did you know that when she invented this, her idea was far too advanced than the technology available? It took almost five years

to even complete the research, testing, and finally apply for the patent. Today the device is used worldwide!

Marjorie Stewart Joyner

Civil Rights activist, Marjorie Stewart Joyner alongside Madame CJ Walker taught at Walker Beauty Schools where she invented the permanent hair wave machine! During this era, in 1939, Black women were straightening their hair, and Joyner was looking for an easier way for them to do just that. She actually got her idea from cooking a pot roast with paper pins to hurry the preparation time. She finally designed something that could curl or straighten the hair by wrapping it on rods and “cooking” the hair to set it. The hairstyle would last for days.

There are rumors that the first inventor of this kind of tool was an English man in 1909, but that is said to be false. Thanks to Joyner, African American and white women all over America were able to use this. Unfortunately, the patent was credited to Madame Walker’s company and she barely received any money for it. She later helped draft the first cosmetology laws for the State of Illinois and was a founding member of the National Council of Negro Women.

,,Lisa Ascolese

“The inventress” aka areal Boss lady, Lisa Ascolese is the founder of the non-profit organization, Association Of Women Inventors And Entrepreneurs “AOWIE”. She has created, patented, and launched many products in QVC, HSN, and other national retail stores. She started inventing her own products at nine years old and this woman has a brilliant mind. The beautiful thing about Ascolese is her desire to share her knowledge and mentor others who have ideas. She has workshops for adults and children.

“My passion is seeing people succeed. I want people to understand what it takes to become successful in the world of inventing. I see them through the entire process. “

Some of her products include the Bosom Buddy Nursing Cape, her first product, the Bun-Tie hair accessory, the Wrap and Store Organizer, and The Perfect Pockets Organizer, which made $6,000 in less than six minutes on QVC. She continues to conduct workshops all over and was even a keynote speaker at the 14th annal retreat for the Odyssey Women’s Conference!

With her continued knowledge and help, she will give great insight to other innovators, especially women, which we need more of everyday.

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