February is Black History Month.

It’s a good time to remember that it really is a small world, that strangers help make our lives better for all of us.

If you drove to work today, used a telephone or computer, chances are you were the beneficiary of work done by black inventors.

When you drove to work, the three-way traffic lights that helped you get there and back safely were developed from an automatic traffic signal patented by the late Garrett Morgan, a Cleveland Ohio inventor and businessman.

Another of Morgan’s inventions familiar to every man or woman in this country’s armed forces: a breathing device that led to development of gas masks. Early versions were used by Allied troops to protect against poison gas used by Germany in World War I.

When you use a computer, you likely take it for granted that you can connect disc drives, speakers and video equipment and get them to work. Thank IBM engineer Mark Dean, co-inventor of the microchip system that allows computers to operate these processing devices.

When you talk on the telephone, chances are the microphone inside is based on technology developed by James West, a Bell Laboratories engineer who did groundbreaking work in acoustics.

And when you talk about the “Real McCoy,” meaning the real thing, you’re talking about a standard used to describe Elijah McCoy, a mechanical engineer credited with more than 50 patents before he died in 1929.

Black History Month is a good time to remember that the creativity that enriches our lives is colorblind…

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