Black History Month

Talia Williams

Talia Williams

Guest Writer

Black History Month is not just about resharing Instagram posts on your story. It embodies so much more than that. Black History Month is about giving recognition to Black/African American leaders and activists, celebrating our culture and traditions, and, most importantly, educating the mass about Black contributions to society. Without Frederick M. Jones, we would not have the air conditioning unit and would overheat all summer long. Without Robert F. Fleming Jr., the inventor of the guitar, music would be dull and lack soul and rhythm. There would be no peanut butter in PB&J sandwiches if George W. Carver did not spend hours perfecting his formula. Our clothes would have been permanently wrinkled if Sarah Boone did not construct the ironing board [4]. There are so many modern-day inventions that we all use daily that Black scientists, engineers, and creators spent countless hours of their lives dedicated to perfecting their craft but never receiving the credit they rightfully deserve.

Today that will change. Now, recall a time when you were stuck in traffic, wondering what was taking so long and why no one was moving. Hundreds of miles of grid-locked cars just a couple of inches apart trying to reach their destination. As frustrating as that is, imagine what transportation would look like without traffic lights to direct us. Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr., an African American inventor and entrepreneur fabricated the three-position traffic light used nationwide. Coming from enslaved parents, Morgan was extremely handy around the house and was always creative growing up. Not only did he build the traffic light, but created the T-shaped pole for the light to rest on, the gas mask used to protect humans from harmful chemicals and smoke, the smoke hood, and even some hair care products. On November 20, 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Morgan a patent on his technology for the traffic light [3]. We would have a substantial number of car crashes if Garrett Morgan did not develop the technology for our modern traffic light. Garrett is just one maker of many who developed everyday products we utilize.

Nonetheless, Black history is all around us. We are too distracted to look up from our cyclic routines to notice. For instance, take my name for example. My mother named me after Booker T. (Taliaferro) Washington, a famous author, activist, educator, and adviser to multiple U.S. presidents. Most people know Booker as one of the most influential and primary advocates for racial equality [1]. He was also the founder and first president of Tuskegee University [2]. He assisted in the growth and development of the American education system, and my mother gave me the honor of being named after someone with such accolades. There are plenty more Black children, teenagers, and adults named after African American innovators that supported the evolution of our culture in this country. The times we live in now are progressing, slowly but surely, I might add, toward teaching what Black history truly stands for. I remember growing up and watching That’s So Raven, and I will never forget Season 3, episode 10, called “True Colors,” which discussed racism that the protagonists faced. Raven could not get a job because the boss did not want to hire Black people, so they recorded her and publicly outed the company while Cory had to write a paper about Black History Month (kinda like what I’m doing), and he met various Black sports players, pilots, and businessmen that have been overlooked in history.

Today, the media plays a monumental role in how we write history, whether we like it or not. Regardless of one’s views, there is still a serious question that must be asked. How can one celebrate Black culture without appropriating it or tearing down another culture? The answer is quite simple, ask questions and genuinely listen to the demands Black people ask for. In order to better understand any culture, uncomfortable questions must be asked. Still, responses must be in a manner that people continue to learn and are not scolded for not being aware in the first place. That’s what I enjoy most about the upcoming generation of leaders and peers in this world, especially at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. As an African American student here at Thunderbird, it brings me immense joy to walk down our luminous hallways and view a showcase of community and inclusion. It demonstrates that the businessmen/women of today are steadily on the right path. We can celebrate and honor the people in the past who helped shape us today. Black history is history. It tells so many stories in ways we didn’t know were possible or achievable. So next time you use a household item, donate blood at a blood bank, lock your doors at night, or even scoop ice cream, you might find a Black originator behind that creation. Let’s go out into the world and continue to learn, share, and consciously be aware of African American/Black history. Happy Black History Month, everyone!


[1] Booker T. Washington. (2020, August 11). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from 

[2] Dr. Booker Taliaferro Washington. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from 

[3] Garrett Morgan patents three-position traffic signal. (2009, November 13). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from 

[4] Little Known Facts in Black History: Black Inventors. (2021, February 16). Retrieved January 29, 2023, from 

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