Louis Haber,
Black Pioneers of Science & Invention
(Harcourt, 1970; 2007)

Against the odds amazing discoveries surfaced during a time when one race considered itself superior to another.

While reading Louis Haber's Black Pioneers of Science & Invention, I was enlightened by the accomplishments of African Americans and realized that, if I didn't know about their inventions, there were certainly others in the dark as well. In studying this book I discovered a multitude of discoveries and innovations that were the result of black surveyors, inventors, chemists, surgeons, scientists, doctors, etc.

I read about Benjamin Banneker, who built a working clock by studying a pocket watch and devised the Banneker Almanac with his calculations of solar and lunar eclipses. Garret A. Morgan invented the first hair-straightener cream and the first gas mask. Dr. Charles Richard Drew organized blood banks in the United States and England. Then there was Robert Rillieux, who came up with a plan to drain swamps to eliminate mosquitos that were causing yellow fever, as well as inventing a crystalizing vacuum to evaporate the liquid in sugar so that it looks like we see it today. These are just a few inventions; the book mentions so many others.

After reading about the contributions these incredible people made to this country, I feel strongly that this book should be required reading for all educational systems.

During Black History Month, no presentation, speech or acknowledgment should be considered just or complete until this book is recognized. Living in an era when everything we desire is at our fingertips, we cannot possibly relate to the barriers these extraordinary people came up against. Slavery, injustice and racism could have dimmed their light, but did not. They had a vision and the world needed their accomplishments.

As I was concluding this book I knew I had a duty to speak -- especially to African-American children -- about these inspiring pioneers. From me they would hear about Benjamin Banneker, Norbert Rillieux, Elijah McCoy, Lewis Howard Latimer and many others not mentioned but just as important.

Do I recommend this book? On a scale of 1 to 10, it's definitely a 10, good reading and informative. It's a book I would never let leave my house or loan out!

review by
Renee Harmon

30 August 2008

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