This Day in Black History: March 4, 1877

Garrett A. Morgan, noted American inventor, was born.

Posted: 03/04/2013 08:00 AM EST

(Photo: Public Domain)

Garrett Augustus Morgan, born on March 4, 1877,  was a renowned African-American inventor who was best known for developing the traffic signal and gas mask.

He gained particular renown when, in 1918, he used the gas mask to save the lives of workers trapped in a tunnel that was filled with fumes when other rescue attempts were unsuccessful. Morgan was also widely believed to be the first African-American resident of Cleveland to own an automobile.

He was born in Paris, Kentucky, to a former slave and the son of a Confederate colonel. As a teenager, he worked as a handyman for a wealth landowner in Cincinnati. In 1895, he moved to Cleveland, where he worked as a repairman of sewing machines for a clothing manufacturer.

He was a founder of the Cleveland Call newspaper and worked on the merger that would lead to the creation of the Call & Post newspaper. He also discovered a liquid that would straighten hair, eventually manufacturing a cream that would be the mainstay of his G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company.

Morgan died on July 27, 1963, at the age of 86.

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