Creative pioneers make visitors stop, think

By Becky Mayad

Did you know that the three-light traffic light was invented by an African American? Or that laser cataract surgery was invented by a female African American ophthalmologist? And that Richard Bowie Spikes devised the first automatic transmission?

The inventors exhibition runs through March 19.
Photo courtesy of the African American Museum

Opening this week at the African American Museum, Dallas, the “African-American Pioneers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture and Math” exhibition will return to Dallas to showcase approximately 160 replicas and examples of items invented or improved by African Americans. Free and open to the public, the exhibition will run through March 19.

Designed to inspire and enlighten, the family-friendly exhibition shines a light on the many contributions African Americans have made while illustrating the exciting science behind the engineering feats.

Inventions include groundbreaking game-changers such as the IBM computer (co-invented by Mark E. Dean) and the traffic light (Garrett Morgan) along with common household staples like the ironing board (Sarah Boone), pencil sharpener (John Lee Love), world’s first hair-straightening formula (Madam C. J. Walker) and curtain rod (Samuel Scottron). These creative pioneers have played a major role in revolutionizing modern society while paving the way for the next generation of STEM innovators to think bold and outside the box.

Located at 3536 Grand Ave. in Dallas’ historic Fair Park, the African American Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and is closed Mondays and Sundays.

For more information, including details on group and school field trip tickets, go to or call 214-565-9026.