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Super Soakers and Black History Month

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Do your kids like peanut butter and super soakers? Thank historic Black Americans.

Kimberly Seals Allers: It's Black History Month -- a special time to teach our kids about all the contributions African-Americans have made to society. And if you thought there weren't many kid-friendly Black history facts, think again. Momlogic and MochaManual.com teamed up to bring you these great Black history facts for every kid.


10 Fun Facts about Black History to Teach Your Kids

1: Peanut Butter

Love peanut butter? Peanut butter was invented by a Black man, George Washington Carver (1864-1943), who discovered 400 uses for peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans. In the process, he transformed lunchtime sandwiches forever.

2: The Real McCoy: Summertime Fun in the Sprinkler

The next time you're running through the sprinkler, remember that it was invented by Elijah McCoy (1843-1929). Ever heard the expression "the real McCoy"? It comes from another invention by McCoy that allowed trains and other machines to be lubricated while running. When many imitations showed up, people insisted on the real McCoy.

3: Stoplight Trivia

The next time you're waiting at a red light, tell the kiddies it was invented by Garrett Morgan (1877-1963). Morgan's other invention, the gas mask, also saves lives. Many soldiers survived the First World War thanks to the gas mask, which prevented deadly mustard gas from entering their lungs.

4: What Helps Doctors in Haiti

A lifesaving discovery. While researching blood transfusions, Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) realized that blood, like other liquids, could be preserved. His method, now known as blood banking, revolutionized medicine and changed the way doctors work in remote areas or during times of war. Dr. Drew went on to form the Red Cross Blood Bank.

5: Powering Computers and Hearts

There's a lot of Black history inside your television. Otis Boykin (1920-1982) created over 28 different electronic devices, including electrical resistors that are used in home computers, television sets, radios, and guided missiles. He also invented the pacemaker.

6: The World-Famous Super Soaker

Sure, he's an aerospace engineer, but Lonnie G. Johnson (born 1949) is best known for creating the world-famous Super Soaker water gun, which has earned more than $200 million in sales. Perhaps you've contributed to that number every summer. When he's not adding to summertime fun, Johnson spends most of his time inventing mechanical and electrical systems for NASA rockets, and has earned more than 40 patents for his work.

7: Music

Kids love music. What better way to teach Black history than by introducing some of the great African-American music legends? Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (1900-1971) was one of the most influential artists of all time. He transformed jazz into an art form, and his trumpet style is still imitated today. His two international hits, "Hello Dolly" and "What a Wonderful World," are still often heard today.

8: Jackie Robinson

Tell your baseball buffs about Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), the first Black player in Major League Baseball. Robinson didn't have it easy, often getting bottles and insults hurled his way, but he became Rookie of the Year, and in his second season, League MVP.

9: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

A woman called Moses? You bet. Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) was born a slave but later escaped to Philadelphia, only to return to Maryland to rescue her family. But she didn't stop there. She earned the name Moses because she risked her life traveling at night helping hundreds of Southern slaves escape to the north and Canada through a network of safe people and safe houses called the Underground Railroad.

10: Thurgood Marshall and School Desegregation

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) is a must-know figure in Black history. He was the first African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. But as a kid, he was mischievous, and was once forced to write copies of the Constitution as punishment for his misbehavior. He later said that punishment piqued his interest in the Constitution. As a young adult, he applied to his hometown law school at the University of Maryland, but was denied entrance because of being Black. He later sued the school and won. And before he became a judge, he was a successful attorney who, most famously, won the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, which ended school segregation.





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68 comments so far | Post a comment now
Erin February 1, 2010, 10:20 PM

This is a great article. However, I would like to point out that George Washington Carver never invented peanut butter. In fact, it was a physician from St. Louis back in 1890. He found that grinding peanuts into a buttery texture allowed many of his patients to recieve many of their necessary nutrients when they had trouble eating solid foods.

Although George Washington Carver did spend much of his lifetime discovering hundreds of uses for the peanut, not once did he touch upon the use of peanut butter in the form we think of today. But thank God for Mr. GWC because without him, thousands of lives would have been lost and a good majority of us would not be here today.

CR February 1, 2010, 10:31 PM

Could you please do some research before adding your name to those ignorantly saying that Carver invented peanut butter?
Not only is it simply not true, but it belittles the extensive work that he actually did.
Instead of being remembered for the brilliant scientist that he was, he is reduced to a single irrelevant product that he had nothing to do with.

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