“Few Americans are aware of the major contributions of blacks to modern technology. In 1913 alone as many as one thousand inventions were patented by African-Americans, and those were the fortunate few who got as far as the patent office. In the nineteenth century several slaves invented labor-saving devices but were not allowed to patent them in their own names. In 1858 the Attorney General of the United States ruled that since a patent was a contract between the government and the inventor, and since a slave was not considered a United States citizen, he could not make a contract with the government. In spit of these oppressive and inhospitable circumstances, there was no total loss of black ingenuity and technological innovation. The thread of African genius began to unravel, like light speeding through spools of the glassfibre lightguides black scientist Northover developed. Or like impulses travelling along the transatlantic cable Richardson helped to lay down, channeling voices from one continent to another, one time to another, bridging the chasm between the ancestral African and the modern black, between root and branch, seed and flower, an old heart and a new brain.”

Source: Dr. Ivan Van Sertima. Blacks In Science: Ancient and Modern. pg. 6. 1983.

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