History for the Present and Future

As the month dedicated to Black History comes to a close, I would like to spotlight just a small list of those who have impacted my life today. Aside from the greats that we all know and hear about like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Harriet Tubman, the list is longer than we could ever imagine. Here’s a shout out to just a select few.

James Edward Maceo West born Feb 10, 1931, in Farmville, VA. At an early age he was interested in science. In fact, he actually shocked himself while plugging in a radio and instead of being scared, he became intrigued.

James Edward Maceo West

He later worked for a few years as an assistant helping wire homes for electricity.  Shortly after, he began Hampton University as a pre-med student. But after serving in the military during the North Korea war, he changed course and enrolled in Temple University earning a BS in Physics. 

It wasn’t until the late 50s and 60s that he co-developed an electret transducer technology that is currently used in 90 percent of contemporary microphones.  This technology is used in several channels that I consume daily. I’m talking podcasts, radio, theater, cellphones and so much more.

Alexander Miles (May 18, 1838 – May 7, 1918) born in Circleville, OH. He earned his living as a barber. He married by 1875 to Mrs. Candace J. (Shedd) Dunlap who was a widow with 2 children of her own. Together, they had a child named Grace born in 1876. Grace fell down an elevator shaft which almost killed her.

Alexander Miles

This is believed to be how Alexander got the idea for the elevator door mechanism which allows the elevators to automatically close. Thanks, Alexander, for keeping us safe. Every hotel, work building, mall (because I use strollers) –I am safer because of you.

Earle Haas(1888–1981) was an osteopathic physician. Osteopathic physicians focus on preventative measures, tuning into how a patient’s environment and lifestyle can impact their wellbeing.

Earle Haas

He first invented a flexible ring for contraceptive diaphragm in which he later sold the patent for $50,000.  He also sold real estate and was the president of a company that manufactured antiseptics.

Later, Haas got the idea for his tampon because he just knew there had to be something better than the “rags” his wife had to wear during that “time of the month”. His idea was designed after a friend of his in California, who used a sponge in the vagina to absorb menstrual flow. He developed a tube of cotton inserted by means of two cardboard tubes because he did not want the woman to have to touch the cotton. He applied for a patent for the “Catamenal device” on November 19, 1931, and was granted U.S. Patent No. 1,926,900 on September 12, 1933.[2]

Haas failed to get people interested in his invention ,mincluding the Johnson & Johnson company. On October 16, 1933 he finally sold the patent and trademark to a Denver businesswoman, Gertrude Tendrich, for $32,000. She then started the company known as Tampax becoming their first president.  

Thank you for the technology that has decreased my fears of having an accident. You are greatly appreciated!

Again this is just a short list but there are so many more powerful stories. It just goes to show, no matter the odds you may face whether internally or externally, do not let it hold you back. You can make an impact. You may not see the fruits of your labor immediately but the world may be better off because you took that chance. You got this!

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