Are Black Achievers Being Obscured By A ‘Hidden Hand’?

Submitted by Charles Knighton

Astronaut Robert L. Curbeam Jr

I was unsure whether to laugh or whether to cry upon reading the Editorial letter by Mr. Rahim Shabazz “Notable Black Scientists” in the August 24th Advocate. In an effort to refute the assertions of a Mr. Dingwall and  a Mr. Lucas that “as a race black people continue to lag in the field of science” Mr Shabazz counters with the accomplishments of two astronauts, the inventor of the Supersoaker water gun, and a designer of automobiles. After such a thorough chastising Messrs. Dingwall and Lucas must feel appropriately chagrined by their temerity in questioning Black scientific achievement.

For the edification of Mr. Shabazz, the control of the media by what he refers to as the ” hidden hand”, whose purpose is to obscure Black achievement at all costs, did not prevent me from being aware of the two astronauts, Ms.Wilson and Mr. Curbeam, Jr.  All astronauts’ photographs are prominently displayed at both the Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers. Biographical information is also available upon request.

As for Mr. Johnson of Supersoaker fame and the automobile designer Mr. Lucas, just how much media coverage should they garner?  And why? Simply because of their skin colour? Individuals predisposed to finding the malevolent influence of “hidden hands” to further their narrative of oppression  will certainly do so, as we are always paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect.

11 thoughts on “Are Black Achievers Being Obscured By A ‘Hidden Hand’?

  1. Call me racist but I was watching the CBC news at 7 p.m and saw a clip from T&T where many so-called alleged criminals were being arrested, THEY WERE ALL BLACK; let’s remember that the government there is predominately Indian. Blacks are talented but we’re seeing a modern day slavery attitude appearing. The problem here is Blacks are not helping the situation.

    • It appears Charles maybe a little harsh in his view of the issue here.

      Let us never forget that much of the history is written, disseminated and guarded with a White leaning.

      it is what it is.

  2. Mr Shabazz in seeking to name Black scientists made a mockery of Black people by naming astronauts inventors and designers as scientists. A person can be an astronaut but that does not make them a scientist. In fact Mr Shabazz’s knowledge of black scientists seems nonexistent and yet he is writing about Black scientists. The information is out there and I am ashamed that Mr Shabazz would embarrass Black people by writing such ignorance. Below is a list of real Black scientists and inventors that Mr Shabazz neglected to name.

    African American Scientists
    Benjamin Banneker
    (1731-1806) Born into a family of free blacks in Maryland, Banneker learned the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic from his grandmother and a Quaker schoolmaster. Later he taught himself advanced mathematics and astronomy. He is best known for publishing an almanac based on his astronomical calculations.
    Rebecca Cole
    (1846-1922) Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cole was the second black woman to graduate from medical school (1867). She joined Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first white woman physician, in New York and taught hygiene and childcare to families in poor neighborhoods.
    Edward Alexander Bouchet
    (1852-1918) Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Bouchet was the first African American to graduate (1874) from Yale College. In 1876, upon receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Yale, he became the first African American to earn a doctorate. Bouchet spent his career teaching college chemistry and physics.
    Dr. Daniel Hale Williams
    (1856-1931) Williams was born in Pennsylvania and attended medical school in Chicago, where he received his M.D. in 1883. He founded the Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1891, and he performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893.
    George Washington Carver
    (1865?-1943) Born into slavery in Missouri, Carver later earned degrees from Iowa Agricultural College. The director of agricultural research at the Tuskegee Institute from 1896 until his death, Carver developed hundreds of applications for farm products important to the economy of the South, including the peanut, sweet potato, soybean, and pecan.
    Charles Henry Turner
    (1867-1923) A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Turner received a B.S. (1891) and M.S. (1892) from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. (1907) from the University of Chicago. A noted authority on the behavior of insects, he was the first researcher to prove that insects can hear.
    Ernest Everett Just
    (1883-1941) Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Just attended Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in zoology in 1916. Just’s work on cell biology took him to marine laboratories in the U.S. and Europe and led him to publish more than 50 papers.
    Archibald Alexander
    (1888-1958) Iowa-born Alexander attended Iowa State University and earned a civil engineering degree in 1912. While working for an engineering firm, he designed the Tidal Basin Bridge in Washington, D.C. Later he formed his own company, designing Whitehurst Freeway in Washington, D.C. and an airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama, among other projects.
    Roger Arliner Young
    (1889-1964) Ms. Young was born in Virginia and attended Howard University, University of Chicago, and University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Ph.D. in zoology in 1940. Working with her mentor, Ernest E. Just, she published a number of important studies.
    Percy L. Julian
    (1899-1975) Alabama-born Julian held a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. His most famous achievement is his synthesis of cortisone, which is used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
    Dr. Charles Richard Drew
    (1904-1950) Born in Washington, D.C., Drew earned advanced degrees in medicine and surgery from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, in 1933 and from Columbia University in 1940. He is particularly noted for his research in blood plasma and for setting up the first blood bank.
    Emmett Chappelle
    (1925-) Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Chappelle earned a B.S. from the University of California and an M.S. from the University of Washington. He joined NASA in 1977 as a remote sensing scientist. Among Chappelle’s discoveries is a method (developed with Grace Picciolo) of instantly detecting bacteria in water, which led to the improved diagnoses of urinary tract infections.
    James West
    (b. 1931) James West was born in 1931 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and studied physics at Temple University. Specializing in microphones, West went on to author 200 patents and more than 60 technical and scientific publications. In 1962, with Gerhard Sessler, West developed the foil electret microphone, which became the industry standard. Approximately 90% of microphones in use today are based on this invention and almost all telephones utilize it, as well as tape recorders, camcorders, baby monitors and hearing aids.
    Philip Emeagwali
    (b. 1954) Born in Nigeria in 1954, Philip Emeagwali’s determination to succeed grew out of a life of poverty and little formal education. An expert in mathematics, physics, and astronomy, Emeagwali won the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers’ Gordon Bell Prize in 1989 for an experiment that used 65,000 processors to perform the world’s fastest computation of 3.1 billion calculations per second. Emeagwali’s computers are currently being used to forecast the weather and predict future global warming.
    Aprille Ericsson
    (b. 1963) Born and raised in Brooklyn, N. Y., M.I.T graduate Aprille Ericsson was the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Ericsson has won many awards, including the 1997 “Women in Science and Engineering” award for the best female engineer in the federal government, and she is currently the instrument manager for a proposed mission to bring dust from the Martian lower atmosphere back to Earth.

    African American Inventors
    Thomas L. Jennings
    (1791-1859) A tailor in New York City, Jennings is credited with being the first African American to hold a U.S. patent. The patent, which was issued in 1821, was for a dry-cleaning process.
    Norbert Rillieux
    (1806-1894) Born the son of a French planter and a slave in New Orleans, Rillieux was educated in France. Returning to the U.S., he developed an evaporator for refining sugar, which he patented in 1846. Rillieux’s evaporation technique is still used in the sugar industry and in the manufacture of soap and other products.
    Benjamin Bradley
    (1830?-?) A slave, Bradley was employed at a printing office and later at the Annapolis Naval Academy, where he helped set up scientific experiments. In the 1840s he developed a steam engine for a war ship. Unable to patent his work, he sold it and with the proceeds purchased his freedom.
    Elijah McCoy
    (1844-1929) The son of escaped slaves from Kentucky, McCoy was born in Canada and educated in Scotland. Settling in Detroit, Michigan, he invented a lubricator for steam engines (patented 1872) and established his own manufacturing company. During his lifetime he acquired 57 patents.
    Lewis Howard Latimer
    (1848-1929) Born in Chelsea, Mass., Latimer learned mechanical drawing while working for a Boston patent attorney. He later invented an electric lamp and a carbon filament for light bulbs (patented 1881, 1882). Latimer was the only African-American member of Thomas Edison’s engineering laboratory.
    Granville T. Woods
    (1856-1910) Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, and later settled in Cincinnati. Largely self-educated, he was awarded more than 60 patents. One of his most important inventions was a telegraph that allowed moving trains to communicate with other trains and train stations, thus improving railway efficiency and safety.
    Madame C.J. Walker
    (1867-1919) Widowed at 20, Louisiana-born Sarah Breedlove Walker supported herself and her daughter as a washerwoman. In the early 1900s she developed a hair care system and other beauty products. Her business, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, amassed a fortune, and she became a generous patron of many black charities.
    Garrett Augustus Morgan
    (1877-1963) Born in Kentucky, Morgan invented a gas mask (patented 1914) that was used to protect soldiers from chlorine fumes during World War I. Morgan also received a patent (1923) for a traffic signal that featured automated STOP and GO signs. Morgan’s invention was later replaced by traffic lights.
    Frederick McKinley Jones
    (1892-1961) Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. An experienced mechanic, he invented a self-starting gas engine and a series of devices for movie projectors. More importantly, he invented the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks (1935). Jones was awarded more than 40 patents in the field of refrigeration.
    David Crosthwait, Jr.
    (1898-1976) Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Crosthwait earned a B.S. (1913) and M.S. (1920) from Purdue University. An expert on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, he designed the heating system for Radio City Music Hall in New York. During his lifetime he received some 40 U.S. patents relating to HVAC systems.
    Patricia Bath
    (1942-) Born in Harlem, New York, Bath holds a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and an M.D. from Howard University. She is a co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Bath is best known for her invention of the Laserphaco Probe for the treatment of cataracts.
    Mark Dean
    (1957-) Dean was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He led the team of IBM scientists that developed the ISA bus—a device that enabled computer components to communicate with each other rapidly, which made personal computers fast and efficient for the first time. Dean also led the design team responsible for creating the first one-gigahertz computer processor chip. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997.

    Read more: Famous African American Scientists & Inventors: History & Biographies —

  3. My daughter has a Bachelor of Science in Biological studies and a Masters in Kinesiology and Recreation both are science degrees, does that make her a scientist as well?

  4. @islandgal246. Kinesiology is a very important and greatly under-rated and under-valued science. So, yes, your daughter is not only a scientist, but a cutting-edge scientist. Congrats to her and you.

  5. What do we consider to be achievements and achievers? There are long lists of scientists and inventors both black and white, yet what has humanity gained from it. We still argue and sometimes fight over religion, we still produce more food than we can eat and cannot end hunger or poor nutrition. We develop vehicles and pollute the planet and reduce our health through lack of exercise.

    We still make weapons and pay people to murder other people. The achievements that many seem to respect are material and theoretical.

    What are our spiritual achievements?


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