BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: GARRETT MORGAN

By: Leon kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Garret Augustus Morgan, was born o March 4, 1877 in Claysville, Kentucky. His father a man named Sydney Morgan was a freed-slave, and the son of confederate colonel John H. Morgan, his mother was a slave woman named Elizabeth Reed. At the age of 14, having only a 6th grade education, he would move to Cincinnati,Ohio to look for work. Morgan would eventually gain employment as a handyman for a Cincinnati landowner. In his free-time, he would further his knowledge by studying with a tutor he hired. In 1895, Morgan would move to Cleveland, Ohio, where heee found work as a sewing machine repairman for a clothing maker. The skills he required as a repairman would ultimately send him on the journey of becoming an inventor. He would invent a belt fastener for sewiing machines, and in 1912 he would get his first patent.

when he was not working or inventing, Morgan became interested in his own Black American heritage and the plight of his fellow Black American people, in 1908, he would co-found the Cleveland Association of Colored Men, which was a group dedicated to improving the social and economic situation for Black people. The group would later merge with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Morgan would move his activities beyond entrepreneurship, inventing and activism and would become a philanthropist, giving his own money to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to help educate his people.

As a businessman, Morgan would eventually open his own sewing business. In 1909, Morgan and his wife Mary Anne expanded their small and growing business empire by opening a clothing store called Morgan’s Cut Rate Ladies Clothing Store. Where he would employee his own people and at one time his store employed 32 people.
As an inventor he would go on to invent Black hair products, the stoplight and the smokehood (a precursor to the gas mask).
He would die on July 27, 1963, in Cleveland, Ohio after living to the ripe age of 86.

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