Black History: Those Who Paved the Way Pt. 1


By Makeen Yasar

As we’re nearing the end of Black History Month, I feel that the absence of its mention in any form is a disservice to everyone. It isn’t often that African achievements are broadcast to the general population, and as a diverse school, it’s important to note excellence found in diverse cultures in contrast to America’s overly saturated media that generally caters to a few, confined, narrow perspectives (Oscars, cough cough).

A big part of this isn’t just remembering names. It’s recognizing the work that men and women of color have put in over the years, showing us that we, the new generation, are strong and completely capable of being exceptional. Here are a few names to prove my point. Both are pioneers integral to the development of not only America, but the world through their inventions:


Mark Dean


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  • Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford.
  • One of the most prominent black inventors in the field of computers.
  • Dr. Mark Dean started working at IBM in 1980 and was instrumental in the invention of the PERSONAL COMPUTER (PC).
  • Holds more than 20 total patents.
  • Most recent computer inventions occurred while leading the team that produced the 1-Gigahertz chip, which contains one million transistors and has nearly limitless potential.

James E. West


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  • Ninety percent of microphones used today are based on his patent
  • If you’ve ever talked on the telephone, you’ve probably used his invention.
  • West and a colleague, Gerhard Sessler, developed the mic (officially known as the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone) while with Bell Laboratories, and they received a patent for it in 1962.
  • The acoustical technologies employed became widely used for many reasons including high performance, acoustical accuracy and reliability.

These two helped to revolutionize the way we use technology. Their ingenuity helped lead to our modern day computers, microphones, and if you really think about it, even our smart phones. Over the next 4 days, there will be more profiles celebrating achievement in honor of Black History Month. These two inventors, as well as other black inventors and their stories can be found at