Primarily self taught after the age of ten, Granville Woods became a mechanical engineer and an inventor with over 50 patents. Two of his most notable inventions were a “telegraphony” device which allowed communication by voice over telegraph wires, and a Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph that helped trains communicate with stations and other trains about their whereabouts and problem on the track. The first was purchased by Alexander Graham Bell, and the second was challenged in court by Thomas Edison. Woods successfully defended his patent, leading Edison to offer him a prominent job within his company. Woods declined preferring to work independently.
Maggie Lena Walker, the daughter of a former slave and cook, was the first woman to charter a bank in the United States in 1902. The bank offered loans and mortgages to black residents of Richmond, Virginia who were otherwise denied service by white-owned banks.
A year later she started a department store allowing black customers to shop with dignity: To enter through the main doors instead of a side entrance, to try on clothing before buying, and to eat at lunch counters. Her store displayed clothing on brown-skinned mannequins and hired exclusively black women to work as clerks.
Later the same year, Walker utilized her newspaper to urge Richmond residents to boycott the city’s segregated streetcar system. The boycott was so effective the company operating the street cars declared bankruptcy two months later.
Josh Gibson was big and he was strong, “built like sheet metal. If you ran into him it was like you ran into a wall.” He was considered the best baseball hitter of his time. Maybe even the best ever. Some said he was the black Babe Ruth. Others said Babe was the white Josh Gibson.
And the fact that he was black shouldn’t matter. But it does.
For Josh spent his entire career playing in the Negro League or baseball leagues abroad. He never got his chance to play Major League ball. For his many accolades, all the home runs he hit, the home run he once hit that traveled 580 feet in Yankee Stadium landing just two feet from the top of the bleacher wall, Josh passed away 3 months before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern major league history in April of 1947.
Source of photo: National Baseball Hall of Fame