Sunday, September 23, 2007

African American Inventors

Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer
Lewis Latimer (1848–1928) invented an important part of the light bulb — the carbon filament.
Fast Fact: Latimer worked in the laboratories of both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.

The Colored Hockey League

Setting the Ice Hockey Historical Record Straight. Our knowledge of the roots of Canadian hockey has been based almost solely on the historical records maintained by early White historians. Because of this, the misconception that hockey is a White man's invention has persisted. We know today, such an assumption could not be further from historical fact. The roots of early Canadian hockey originate with the North American Indians. The roots of modern Canadian hockey originate, in large part, from the influence of an even more surprising source, that of early African-Canadian hockey. For it was Black hockey players in the later half of the nineteenth century whose style of play and innovations helped shape the sport, effectively changing the game of hockey forever.

The First Black Ice Hockey Players - 1820 to 1870 With certainty, we can only date Black hockey to the early 1870's, yet we know that hockey and Black history in Nova Scotia have parallel roots, going back almost 100 years. Among the first reports of hockey being played occur in 1815 along the isolated Northwest Arm, south of Halifax. The date is important for the simple fact that as late as October 1815 the region was not home to a large White settlement but was instead the site of a small Black enclave. Four Black families originally from the Chesapeake Bay area, with a total of fifteen children, had relocated and settled on the Arm. It is reported that these families, Couney, Williams, Munro and Leale, received adequate food, lodging and employment implying that their children were healthy and would have been able to play hockey during the winter months when the Arm was frozen and suitable for skating. Were these children among the first Canadians to play the game of hockey?

The first recorded mention of all-Black hockey teams appears in 1895. Games between Black club teams were arranged by formal invitation. By 1900, The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes had been created, headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Despite hardships and prejudice, the league would exist until the mid-1920s. Historically speaking, The Colored Hockey League was like no other hockey or sports league before or since. Primarily located in a province, reputed to be the birthplace of Canadian hockey, the league would in time produce a quality of player and athlete that would rival the best of White Canada. Such was the skill of the teams that they would be seen by as worthy candidates for local representation in the annual national quest for Canadian hockey's ultimate prize - the Stanley Cup.

You can read more about this in George and Darrill Fosty's book, "Black Ice."

Elijah McCoy
Elijah McCoy (1843–1929) invented an oil-dripping cup for trains.
Fast Fact: Other inventors tried to copy McCoy's oil-dripping cup. But none of the other cups worked as well as his, so customers started asking for "the real McCoy." That's where the expression comes from.

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