November 20th in African American History – Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr.

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr.

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr.

November 20, 1923 Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. received patent number 1,475,024 for his version of the traffic signal.

Morgan was born March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky. In 1895, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he worked repairing sewing machines for a clothing manufacturer. In 1907, he opened his own sewing machine and shoe repair shop and in 1908 he helped to found the Cleveland Association of Colored Men.

On October 13, 1914, Morgan received patent number 1,113,675 for the safety hood and smoke protector and he became nationally known when he used it in 1916 to save several men in a tunnel explosion under Lake Erie. Morgan was awarded the Medal of Bravery by the citizens of Cleveland, but was denied the Carnegie Medal, which is awarded to civilians who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others, due to his race.

Morgan died August 27, 1963 and the Garrett Morgan Treatment Plant and the Garrett A. Morgan Cleveland School of Science are named in his honor. “Garrett A. Morgan: American Negro Inventor” was published in 1969.


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