Black History Facts…the ones you never hear about
I am the mother of two boys and like many mothers with sons I became very familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine and his crew. Well this first Black History Fact is one that I was enlightened to find out about. The only reason I think I have ever heard the word coupler was from Thomas the Tank Engine and I definitely had no clue that the coupler; which is a device that allows train cars to hook themselves together when they are bumped into one another was invented by a black man.
Andrew Jackson Beard
Born 1849 – Died 1921
Patent No. 594,059
Inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006
Andrew Jackson Beard invented the “Jenny Coupler” in 1897. The device saved the lives of many railroad workers, who originally had the dangerous job of hooking the moving cars together by hand.
Born a slave in Woodland, Alabama, Andrew Beard developed the Automatic Railroad Car Coupler to make railroad work safer. Emancipated at the age of 15 and married at 16, Beard became a farmer near Birmingham for a few years, later working as a carpenter, blacksmith, railroad worker, businessman, and prolific inventor. Beard built a flour mill in Hardwicks, Alabama. In 1881 he patented one of his plow designs, selling it in 1884 and inventing another plow in 1887. In 1889, Beard invented a rotary steam engine that he patented in 1892.
During work on his rotary steam engine, Beard began to experiment with the idea of an automatic car coupler for railroad cars. After losing a leg during his own work on the railroads, Beard wanted to make the dangerous task of coupling cars safer. He invented the Automatic Railroad Car Coupler, also known as the “Jenny” coupler, which was patented in 1897.
Beard’s life from 1897 until his death in 1921 is unknown. source
Being an aspiring writer, I love to hear and read about the magnificent happenings in the world of writing. I am proud of Maya Angelou for being recognized in 1995 for remaining on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List for two years—the longest running record in history. Do you realize how long two years is when it comes to the writing world? Millions of books are published each year, so for Angelou to hold her place on the New York Times Bestseller List for two years is impressive! Maya Angelou also composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African-American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Maya Angelou is definitely a Phenomenal Woman!
I have decided that instead of celebrating Black History Month this year, from now on I will Celebrate Blackness all year-long. I, along with many others have grown tired of the same old song and dance each February as Black History Month is “scheduled” to be celebrated. The same programming, showcasing the same historical figures each and every year is simply not enough. You will see programs about Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and the other notables that are recognized on a yearly basis. Please don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that during this scheduled time of celebration we may catch a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., get to view our favorite Blaxploitation films and catch missed episodes of our favorite black sitcoms. But for the most part you will see exactly what you saw the year before and every other year that you can remember during Black History Month.
A post over at the No Warning Shots Fired Blog helped me to realize that when it comes to Black History I want to know more and I want to do more. I wanted to do my part in not only acknowledging those trailblazers and pioneers that paved the way for us, but I also wanted to celebrate everything black. Personally I have found the beauty of my blackness and the uniqueness of blackness intrigues me. Therefore my contribution to the celebration will be poems, short stories, informative articles, good news, and other tidbits; all that showcase that which is black. Black History, Life, Culture, Music, Poetry, Art, Black Love, Black America and anything else that comes to mind. Hopefully my readers will enjoy these posts as much as I will enjoy writing them.
Onward to the Celebration of Blackness!
Side note: As I was googling I came across this website BecauseImBlack.com
oh and another Side note: I have come across some wonderful blogs by Black people that are just so unique and special that I would like to spotlight them here on my blog. There are sooooo many wonderful blogs, but I will try to spotlight as many of those that I can that just blew me away!