Garrett Morgan is regarded by many as the most successful African-American inventors of his time. Morgan is commonly known for his two significant advancements: the gas mask (safety hood) and the invention of the three-position traffic light.
Morgan was born in the latter half of the 19 century to two former slaves, and while Morgan only had a formal sixth grade level of education, he was a brilliant mind and great entrepreneur.
After moving to Ohio at the ripe age of 16 saw success soon after he arrived. He made the first chemical hair straightener, started his sewing equipment repair service, and even established a newspaper.
But Morgan's most prolific role was as an inventor. One of his first significant inventions was the gas mask, which significantly aided the Lake Erie Tunnel incident, and the masks have been a hit ever since.
Similar to Morgan's gas mask, his invention of the traffic signal saved countless lives. The signals alert drivers and pedestrians when it's safe to go or appropriately stop.
Morgan passed away on July 27, 1963, at the age of 83. His discoveries are still used today. The original model of the three-position traffic signal is on display at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. The Safety Hood (gas mask) is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.