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5 Black Inventions that Impact After School Programs

February 9

From the chairs we sit on to the walkie talkies we use to keep children safe, many of the items we use in after school were invented by Black inventors. Here are just 5 of the many!

  1. John Lee Love invented the hand-cranked pencil sharpener in 1894. Without his invention, we wouldn’t have electric pencil sharpeners today that allow children to keep their pencils sharp for drawing, doing homework and working on projects.  
  2. In 1890, William Purvis invented improvements in the fountain pen leading to ball point pens we use today. Staff use pens every day in program for taking attendance, and parents use those same pens to sign their children out of program at the end of the day. Children also use pens for doodling, making crafts, writing stories, and other fun projects.
  3. James E. West invented the electret microphone technology in 1964 that is used in walkie talkies. Walkie talkies are an important piece of safety during After School. Staff use walkie talkies to communicate when children are moving about program space, leaving for the day, and other important program details.
  4. Garrett Morgan was the first Black man to own a car in Cleveland and also the person who invented the stop light in 1923. Though we don’t have stop lights in our programs, children play games inspired by Morgan’s inventions such as Red Light, Green Light. 
  5. Nathaniel Alexander patented the first folding chair in 1911 with the hopes of these being used in church and schools. Children use folding chairs in After School during snack time, playing chess with each other, reading, and doing homework.  

Read part 2.