Garrett Morgan
Garrett Morgan

 

If you can cross the street safely today or protect yourself from certain gases, you owe it to this African American inventor. Garrett Morgan was born into a poor family of seven children in the US state of Kentucky and did not go beyond elementary school. Self-taught, he moved to Cleveland in 1895, where he worked as a sewing machine mechanic. He was inspired by his work to invent a better sewing machine in 1907. He also invented a hair relaxant.

In 1914, he invented a hood isolated from toxic gases without preventing breathing. It’s the modern gas mask. Because of racism, he finds it difficult to sell his invention to firefighting companies and is often forced to make demos himself. In 1916, an explosion occurred in a hydraulic station tunnel 75 meters below Lake Erie. 32 people were captured under the tunnel and threatened by the gas. Garrett Augustus Morgan and his brother Franck, wearing his gas mask, entered the tunnel and shot the victims with their backs. The news spread across the country and Garrett Morgan was hailed as a hero. In this way, his invention has proven its effectiveness. The first American firefighters and soldiers used his mask during the First World War.

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