This category includes blacks in finance, engineers, journalist, architects, inventors or own companies; work in corporate settlings and more.

Gerald Boyd, journalist with a heart

Gerald Boyd

*Gerald Boyd was born on this date in 1950. He was an African American journalist and editor.

From St. Louis, his mother, who had sickle cell anemia, died when he was very young. His father was a delivery truck driver and an alcoholic, moved to New York and played little role in his childhood. Boyd and his older brother, Gary, were raised by their paternal grandmother, who was also raising their two cousins. Their younger sister, Ruth, was raised by their maternal grandmother in California.

John Merrick, a trailblazing businessman

John Merrick

*John Merrick was born on this date in 1859. He was an African American businessman and entrepreneur.

He was from the town of Clinton in Sampson County North Carolina. He did not know his father and was raised by his mother who cared for him and his brother until they could labor. At twelve years old, Merrick worked at a brickyard in Chapel Hill helping to support his mother. When he was 18, the family moved to Raleigh, N.C. where he continued working on buildings at Shaw University.

Black man invents and patents traffic signal

Traffic Signal

On this date in 1923, one of the first traffic signals in the United States was patented by an African American.

Garrett Morgan applied for and acquired a U.S. patent for this invention. The patent number was 1,475,024. Morgan's technology was later patented in Great Britain and Canada.

General Electric bought Morgan's patent for $40,000, and his traffic management device was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red, yellow and green traffic signals currently used around the world.


The first black-owned McDonald's opens

The founding of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association (NBMOA) in 1972 is celebrated on this date.

NBMOA is a self-help organization, established for the improvement and betterment of each and every member. On December 21, 1968, Herman Petty of Chicago opened the first black owned McDonald's franchise. Earlier that year, McDonald's Corporation and its management team felt that black business leaders could better address issues and concerns in the community where they live and work. Petty is still a McDonald's Owner/Operator today.

Earl Woods, businessman born

Earl Woods

*Earl Woods was born on this date in 1932. He was an African American businessman, administrator, and teacher.

He was also the father of professional golfer Tiger Woods. From in Manhattan, Kan., he was the last of six children of Maude and Miles Woods. He attended Kansas State and played catcher on the baseball team, the first African-American player in the Big Eight Conference.

Willi Smith, a Fashion Icon

Willi Smith

*Willi Smith was born on this date in 1948. He was one of the most successful African-American fashion designers in history.

North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company founded

The founding of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (NCM) in 1898 is celebrated on this date.

Founded by John Merrick, it is headquartered in Durham, NC. It was one of the first black-owned insurance companies in America. Charles Spaulding was also instrumental in building NCM’s legacy.

The SuperSoaker® water gun patented

*On this date in 1991, the SuperSoaker® water gun was patented.

This legendary brand of recreational water gun was the creation of African American Lonnie G. Johnson. The SuperSoaker® patent number was #5,074,437, and uses, different types of water propulsion, allowing them to shoot water with greater power, range, and accuracy than a conventional squirt gun.

SuperSoaker® has dominated the market for water guns for many years, with more competition now arising with Buzz Bee Toys and their "Water Warriors" brand.


Lonnie G. Johnson, an inventor who has fun too

Lonnie G. Johnson

Lonnie G. Johnson, an African American inventor, businessman, and mathematician, was born on this date in 1949.

He is from Mobile, AL, where at the age of 18, he was awarded first place in a national competition for his invention of "Linex," a remote-controlled robot made from junkyard scraps.

Charles "Teenie" Harris, known as "One Shot"

Charles T. Harris

This date in 1908, celebrates the birth of Charles ("Teenie") Harris.
Harris was an African-American photographer, the youngest son of William A. and Ella Mae "Olga" Taliaferro Harris who lived in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, The family owned the Masio Hotel on Wylie Avenue.

Young Harris attended Watt School, now the Robert L. Vann School, and after graduating, he worked as a chauffeur and mechanic with brother William "Woogie" Harris until 1938. Woogie also owned the Crystal Barber Shop on Wylie Avenue and was involved in the "numbers" or "policy" lottery.