For decades, the Black community has been instrumental in the innovation and emergence of new technologies in the utility industry. From inventors to titleholders, engineers and creators, African Americans have left their imprint in the history of energy.
Lewis Latimer, a Black draftsman, worked alongside Thomas Edison to create the lightbulb, a fixture that enhances our quality of life and is used worldwide on a daily basis. Latimer designed a longer-lasting carbon filament, making electric lighting more practical and affordable for consumers. The invention of the lightbulb revolutionized electricity as we know it.
Hazel O’Leary was the first woman and Black citizen to serve as the United States Secretary of Energy under the Clinton Administration. During her tenure, she advocated for resources to be used for energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. O’Leary also served as the President of Fisk University from 2004 through February 2013.
Annie Easley was an American computer scientist who became one of NASA’s first Black employees. Easley created code responsible for major advances in rocket systems and energy technologies like early hybrid vehicle batteries. Without Easley’s work, we wouldn’t have access to hybrid cars today. Her legacy continues to inspire countless students to make an impact in the STEM field.
NES applauds these Black trailblazers and is thankful for their contributions to the energy industry. Happy Black History Month!