Pioneers in African American Auto History

February 1 – April 29, 2018

Exhibit Location:  Members 1st Federal Credit Union Gallery

In salute of Black History Month,  The AACA Museum, Inc. presents a history of the pioneers in the African American community who contributed to the advancement of the automobile industry. These men and women laid the foundation for others to pursue careers in such fields as franchised car dealers, designers, custom car builders, race car drivers, and manufacturers.

This exhibit begins with the struggles of African-Americans following the end of slavery and their desire to have their ideas and inventions recognized as equals. Visitors will learn about the only recorded African-American car manufacturer, C.R. Patterson of Ohio and W.H. Phelps, who patented an apparatus for washing over-sized vehicles, along with other esteemed names. While learning the history, visitors can take the opportunity to assemble their own paper traffic signal patented by Garrett Morgan—courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

As a part of the exhibit, guests will be able to participate in different activities unique to the display. Don’t miss this engaging exhibition that highlights and explores the contributions of African-Americans to the transportation industry.


African American History Exhibit AACA Museum African American Auto History Exhibit African American Auto History Exhibit

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  • Henry E. Baker – Recorded African American Patents
  • Curtis L. Bryant – Automotive Protective Cover
  • Edward H. C. Thomas – Key Holder
  • Erastus J. Clark – Nut Lock
  • John P. Thompson – Vehicle Elevation Platforms
  • Lionel F. Page – Auxiliary Circulating Device
  • Norman Jackson – Pneumatic Tire
  • Paul D. Burgin – Headlamp Rim Removal
  • William Hale – Motor Vehicle Adaptation
  • Andrew Beard – Rotary Engine
  • Charles B. Brooks – Self-Propelled Street Sweeper
  • David Baker – Interlinear
  • Edmond Berger – Prototype Spark Plug
  • George W. Carver – Plastic
  • John A. Johnson – Wrench & Anti-theft Device
  • Matthew Cherry – Street Car Fender
  • Samuel Moore – Fuel Valve Lock & Self-Directing Headlight
  • Richard Spikes – Car Wash & Gear Shift
  • C.R. Patterson & Sons – Automobile Manufacturer
  • Garrett Morgan – Electric Traffic Signal
  • Adapt (Adapted) – verb: to change (something) so that it functions better or is better suited for a purpose
  • Apparatus – noun: a tool or piece of equipment used for specific activities
  • Create – verb: to make or produce (something): to cause (something new) to exist
  • Engineer – noun: to plan, build or manage (something)by using scientific methods – usually used as (be) engineered
  • Idea – noun: a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do
  • Inventor – noun: to create or produce (something useful) for the first time
  • Invention – noun: something invented: such as a useful new device or process
  • Manufacturer – noun: a company that makes a product
  • Patent – noun: official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one that makes or sells a product for a certain period
  • Pioneer – noun: a person who helps create or develops new ideas, methods, etc.
  • Slave – noun: someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay