RECENTLY, IT HAS BECOME POPULAR TO SPREAD YET EVEN MORE MISINFORMATION, this time regarding black inventions. While history has proven that blacks have failed to contribute anything significant to the building of civilization, campaigns are spreading across America attempting to credit black “inventors” with certain inventions. One such campaign is promoted by IBM who offers a poster of “Famous Black Inventions.” Included on this poster are pictures of blacks and their supposed inventions— including the traffic light.
While the black Garrett A. Morgan did submit and receive a patent for a traffic signal in 1923, he did not invent the traffic light. The first “traffic light” was created in London in 1868, used to control the traffic of pedestrians and buggies. It was illuminated by gas using green and red colors, and was manually operated by policemen who turned a lever to reveal the appropriate colour to the appropriate lane of traffic. Railroads were already using a lighting system as well. It was a police officer, William Potts, who first improved on the gas-light invention, which required a police officer to operate. William Potts recognized the need for something better when he observed that police officers were spending much of their time directing traffic after the invention of the automobile. He created an electric lighting system using red, amber, and green to control automobile traffic in Detroit.