Honoring Black Energy Pioneers

Learn about some of the Black American innovators who have helped lead the way in the development of energy technologies.


February is Black History Month, which honors the contributions and legacies of Black Americans throughout history. Here, we highlight just a few of the Black innovators who have helped lead the way in the development of energy technologies.


Lewis Latimer

invented the carbon filament, a crucial part of the lightbulb, in 1882. He also designed an early air conditioning unit and helped draft Alexander Graham Bell's patent for the telephone.

George T. Sampson

developed America's first automatic clothes dryer in 1892. His design allowed people to dry clothes in any weather without fear of setting them on fire, and it was the standard for more than 30 years.
Central heating

Alice H. Parker

was an inventor who patented a natural gas-fueled central heating system in 1919. Her design led to the modern heating zone system and thermostats we use today.

Frederick McKinley Jones

masterminded innovations in refrigeration during World War II. He cofounded Thermo King, a leading manufacturer of temperature controls. Awarded 61 patents, Jones was an inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and winner of the National Medal of Technology.

David Crosthwait

helped create innovative heating systems for Radio City Music Hall and other landmark buildings. He was awarded 39 patents for HVAC technologies. In 1971, he became the first Black fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Solar panels

Annie Easley

started her career in 1955 as a human computer at NASA. A gifted programmer, she developed computer code that was used to analyze wind and solar energy projects, as well as batteries for early hybrid vehicles.

See www.blackhistorymonth.gov to learn more about Black History Month, as well as the many achievements of Black Americans in U.S. history.