Habari Gani is Swahili for: “What’s the news?”
The NEWS for you is: EMPOWERMENT.
Here’s your EMPOWERMENT LESSON for the week of October 2:
This Week’s Black History Icon: 5 Things To Know About Thomas L. Jennings
In ADDITION to being the FIRST African American inventor to be granted a patent, Thomas L. Jennings ALSO:
- Was an entrepreneur who owned and operated his own dry-cleaning business.
- Was granted a patent by the State of New York for a dry-cleaning process he created, called “dry scouring”. This process was the forerunner of modern dry-cleaning.
- Used the money he earned for his business to purchase his family’s freedom, as well as to help fund the abolitionist movement.
- Served as the Assistant Secretary to the First Annual Convention of the People of Color when it met in Philadelphia in 1831.
- Endured controversy upon receiving his patent; based on the U.S. patent laws of 1793, slave masters were considered the legal owners of any patents or inventions created by slaves. Because Jennings was a free Black, he was able to own his patent outright.
Extra tidbits: Unfortunately, not much else about Jennings is public record. However, based on the work he did on behalf of his people, Jennings has certainly cemented a place for himself as a TRUE African American icon. Though we hate not knowing much else about him, we are GRATEFUL for the things we DO know.