“Black Inventors, Crafting Over 200 Years of Success” A research project grows in Brooklyn…
Global Black Inventor Research Projects, Inc., (GBIRP), whose roots grow in Brooklyn and whose branches now span six continents, provides a canopy under which students of all ages can expand their perspectives on African creativity and spark their inventive genius. Keith C. Holmes, researcher and founder, has spent over twenty years researching inventors of color. In July, 2008, he, published his first book, Black Inventors, Crafting Over 200 Years of Success. This book highlights the innovative accomplishments of black men and women from six continents and over seventy countries.
Mr. Holmes recognizes the pioneering work of Henry E. Baker, an African American who attended the United States Naval Academy and worked as a copyist with the United States Patent Office in the early twentieth century. Mr. Baker’s interest and research opened the door to the idea that men and women of color throughout the world had filed for patents. Although western countries have a system of filing patents not all inventions are registered in patent offices. In fact every society and civilization has developed its own ideas and inventions with or without patents.
Mr. Baker sent over twenty five hundred letters to lawyers around the United States, to determine if people of color had filed patents. Baker received a number of responses from people who scoffed at and ridiculed the idea of black men and women inventing anything. However, undaunted and undeterred, Baker continued his inquiries and did receive a number of letters that documented over one thousand inventions by black men and women from Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the United States.
In 1988, still engaged in researching this subject, Mr. Holmes attended the International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn, New York where a book titled “Black Inventors in America” by Burt McKinley caught his eye. After purchasing, skimming and eventually reading the book, he was so fascinated and enlightened by its content that he considered buying additional copies and selling them.
His mentor and friend, Dr. Ra Un Nefer Amen, encouraged him to write a book about black inventors. Initially, he laughed at the idea, but, still intrigued by “Black Inventors in America,” he eventually took his mentor’s advice and embarked on a research journey that took over twenty years to complete. His research proved that the invention bug did not only burrow into the African-American imagination but also into that of Africans in the Diaspora.