Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
By dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Benjamin T. Montgomery (1819–1877) was an influential African-American inventor, landowner, and freedman.
Ben Montgomery was born in captivity in Loudoun County, Virginia. In 1837, he was sold south, and purchased in Natchez, Mississippi by Joseph Emory Davis—whose brother, Jefferson Davis, later became the President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery escaped but was recaptured. Davis reportedly "inquired closely into the cause of his dissatisfaction", whereby the two men reached a "mutual understanding" about the Montgomery's situation.
Davis assigned Montgomery to run the general store of his plantation at Davis Bend. It was unusual for a slave to serve in this position. Impressed with his knowledge and abilities to run the store, Davis placed Montgomery in charge of overseeing the entirety of his purchasing and shipping operations on the plantation. The Davis family also taught him many other skills including land surveying, flood control, and architecture.
On May 21, 1847, Montgomery's son, Isaiah Montgomery, was born. Due to Ben's favored position among the Davis Bend slaves by the Davis family, Isaiah was also given the opportunity of receiving an education. Montgomery maintained a close relationship with his son up until his death.
Montgomery learned a variety of skills, including reading, writing, land surveying, flood control, architectural design, machine repair, and steamboat navigation.
Montgomery also worked as an inventor. In the late 1850s he applied for a patent for his design of a steam operated propeller to provide propulsion to boats in shallow water. Davis decided to address the problem and created a propeller that could cut into the water at different angles, thus allowing the boat to navigate more easily though shallow water. This was not a new invention, but an improvement on similar designs invented by John Stevens in 1804 and John Ericsson in 1838. (U.S. Patent 588)
On June 10, 1858, on the basis that Ben, as a slave, was not a citizen of the United States, and thus could not apply for a patent in his name, he was denied his patent application in a ruling by the United States Attorney General's office, on the grounds that neither slaves nor their owners could receive patents on inventions devised by slaves........Read More
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Georgia Senate Republicans are proposing a new map that would create two Black-majority voting districts, but would probably retain Republicans’ 33-23 edge in the General Assembly’s upper chamber, in an effort to fix a map a judge said illegally dilutes Black votes.
The proposed districts, released Monday, would increase the number of Black majority districts by eliminating two white-majority districts currently represented by Democrats. State Sens. Jason Esteves and Elena Parent, both of Atlanta, would find themselves living in Black-majority districts if the redrawn map goes through.
A special session on redrawing state legislative and congressional districts is scheduled to begin Wednesday after U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in October ordered Georgia to draw Black majorities in one additional congressional district, two additional state Senate districts, and five additional state House districts.
It’s unclear whether Jones would accept the map if it passes. He ordered two additional Black Senate districts in the southern part of metro Atlanta, finding 10 state Senate districts illegal under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. Monday’s Republican proposal left two of those districts untouched — a district in Clayton and Fayette counties, represented by Democrat Valencia Seay of Riverdale, and the district stretching across Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Lamar counties, represented by Republican Marty Harbin of Tyrone.
Some other districts declared illegal saw changes that did little to affect their racial or partisan balance. By contrast, Republicans propose redrawing a number of Democratic-held districts in Fulton and Cobb counties the judge didn’t single out.
The climate crisis poses a major threat to the fight against malaria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with evidence suggesting extreme weather events and rising temperatures have already led to spikes in cases.
Mosquitoes, the carriers of the disease, thrive in warm, damp and humid conditions, which are increasing with global heating.
“The changing climate poses a substantial risk to progress against malaria, particularly in vulnerable regions,” said the WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Sustainable and resilient malaria responses are needed now more than ever, coupled with urgent actions to slow the pace of global warming and reduce its effects.”
Although data on the long-term impact of the climate crisis is scarce, the WHO’s world malaria report, published on Thursday, said rising temperatures have contributed to malaria transmission in African highland areas that were previously free of the disease. This is the first time the annual report has had an entire chapter dedicated to the climate crisis and its links to malaria.
In July, amid a tense political climate, the body of an opposition legislator was found in his car with gunshot wounds on a main highway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. Cherubin Okende was a former transport minister-turned-spokesman for leading opposition party Ensemble pour la République (Together for the Republic), whose leader Moise Katumbi is set to compete in Congo’s presidential election in less than a month, on Dec. 20.
Katumbi, a former governor of the mineral-rich province of Katanga and owner of Congolese football club TP Mazembe, claimed at the time that the killing was “a political assassination” and an attempt to silence the opposition. Okende resigned from the government last year when Katumbi left the ruling coalition led by President Felix Tshisekedi.
The murder is part of a series of troubling events leading up to the election, including several arrests of opposition figures that have left critics questioning whether Congo can deliver credible elections at a time when Africans are weary of sham ballots, and when coups in West and Central Africa are on the rise. The last election in 2018, which brought Tshisekedi to power, was heavily disputed.
Haiti’s brutal gang wars have spread from the capital to key farming heartlands, displacing tens of thousands of people and having a devastating impact on access to food staples, the United Nations has warned.
Violence has gradually escalated in the Bas-Artibonite region north of the capital, the source of staples such as rice, according to a new report released on Tuesday, which said about 22,000 had been displaced amid murders, looting, kidnappings and widespread sexual violence.
The region’s most powerful gangs are allied to members of the capital’s powerful G-Pep alliance, the report found, saying this indicates a strategy on the part of G-Pep to extend its influence.
The UN high commissioner for human rights Volker Turk said long-awaited international security assistance – requested by Haiti’s unelected government a year ago and authorized by the UN last month – should be deployed “as soon as possible”.
Armed with semi-automatic rifles and pistols, gangs have burned houses, attacked irrigation systems, stolen crops and livestock and demanded “taxes” for farmers to access fields, it said.
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