This is a fabulous activity to demonstrate all the wonderful things that African-Americans have contributed to our society. I thought this activity was great for children of African-American descent to appreciate their own culture, while other children can find an appreciation for a different ethnic background. I checked up on some of the inventions and most are accurate. A few are instances where the person mentioned actually made an improvement to the product and did not actually invent it, but it still gets the point across to children.
The story starts with a mother saying to her son, Michael, “Son, follow me around today and let’s just see what it would be like if there were no black people in the world.”
Michael ran to his room to put on his clothes and shoes. His mother took one look at him and said, “Michael, where are your shoes? And your clothes are all wrinkled, son. Take them back off so I can iron them.” But when she reached for the ironing board, it was no longer there. You see, Sarah Boone, a black woman, invented the ironing board and Jan E. Matzwlinger, a black man, invented the shoe-lacing machine. “Oh well,” said his mother. “Please go do something with your hair.”
Michael ran to his room to comb his hair, but the comb was not there. You see, Walter Sammons, a black man, invented the comb. Michael decided to just brush his hair instead, but the brush was also missing. Lydia O. Newman, a black female, invented the hairbrush.
Make no mistake: Michael was a sight! No shoes, wrinkled clothes, messy hair…and even his mom’s hair was not in tip-top shape. Without the hair care inventions of Madame C.J. Walker…well, you get the picture. Mom told Michael, “Let’s do our chores around the house and then go to the grocery store.”
Micheal’s job was to sweep and mop the floor. He swept and swept, but when he reached for the dust pan, it wasn’t there. Lloyd P. Ray, a black man, invented the dust pan. Michael also couldn’t mop because the mop was missing; Thomas W. Stewart, a black man, invented the mop. He went to go see what his mom was doing, and she was in the middle of doing laundry. Unfortunately she couldn’t dry the clothes because the dryer was completely gone! George T. Sammon, a black man, invented the clothes dryer.
They decided to skip their chores and head to the grocery. Mom asked Michael to get pencil and paper for a list, but since Hon Love, a black man, invented the pencil sharpener, Michael was out of luck. They could not use a pen either; William Purvis, a black man, invented the fountain pen. After giving up on making a list, they headed out to the car to find it just would not go. You see, Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift and Joseph Gammel invented the supercharger system. They noticed that a few cars that were moving were running into each other because there were no traffic signals. Garrett A. Margan, a black man, invented traffic lights, so they had all disappeared.
Because it was getting late, they went ahead and walked to the market. Once they were done buying milk, eggs, and butter, Michael and Mom returned home to find no refrigerator to put away their groceries. Hon Standard, a black man, invented the refrigerator…so it had disappeared. By this time, the sun was going down, so they put the groceries in the sink and headed into the living room. Mom gave a shiver and went to turn up the heater, but it wouldn’t work – Alice Parker, a black female, invented the heating furnace. (Even in summer, they’d have been out of luck because Frederick Jones, a black man, invented the air conditioner.)
It was almost time for Mike’s father to arrive home. He normally took the bus, but the bus’s precursor, the electric trolley, was invented by Elbert R. Robinson, a black man. He would have been late for the bus anyhow because he worked on the 20th floor of an office building, and had to walk down the steps – Alexander Miles, a black man, invented the elevator. When he finally got home, Dad asked Mom and Mike why they were sitting in the dark. “The light bulbs don’t work today, Dad,” said Mike. Small wonder – Lewis Howard Latimer, a black man, invented the filament within the light bulb.
Michael learned that day what it would be like if there were no black people in the world. Have you ever thought about it?
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Happy Black History Month!