SSC: Red Light, Green Light, go read a gawt d@mned book with a gas mask on!

Some of y’all may be too young to remember playing games… Outside! With other children. In real life and not over the gawt d@mned internet. Games that didn’t involve wifi or batteries.

And to be honest some of these “kid” games can be fun at as adults. But Folk digress.

The game is based on the idea of one person being the traffic light and if anyone is caught during a stop light performing any moving violation is out. The person able to touch the traffic light without being caught earns the right to become “it” (the new traffic light).

But Folk ain’t got time for no children games on Sunday, this is about traffic lights. Specifically the inventor of the modern traffic light, Garrett Morgan.

Garrett didn’t invent the concept of a traffic control system, like Apple didn’t invent the cell phone, but Garrett brought several innovations to the game of traffic control system. He is noted for inventing the T-style with the advantage of distance control that could be manufactured cheaply. Morgan would sell his rights to his patent for his invention and innovations to General Electric for $40,000.

But this lil known secret isn’t his greatest invention, that would be the invention that saves many lives yearly. The safety hood and smoke protector.

Garrett Morgan patented a safety hood and smoke protector after seeing firefighters struggling from the smoke they encountered in the line of duty and hearing about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. His device used a wet sponge to filter out smoke and cool the air. He was able to sell his invention around the country, sometimes using the tactic of having a hired white actor take credit rather than revealing himself as its inventor. For demonstrations of the device, he sometimes adopted the disguise of “Big Chief Mason”, a purported full-blooded Indian from the Walpole Island Indian Reserve in Canada. His invention became known nationally when he and three other men used it to save several men after a 1916 tunnel explosion under Lake Erie. Cleveland’s newspapers and city officials initially ignored Morgan’s personal acts of heroism as the first to rush into the tunnel for the rescue, and it took years for the city to recognize his contributions.

Eventually, Morgan was awarded a gold Medal of Bravery by prominent citizens of Cleveland and a gold medal for bravery from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Morgan’s invention of the safety hood was featured on the television show Inventions that Shook the World.

Here’s to another great black inventor that has become a ghost of history past. An inventor that many men in red owe their lives to when they enter smoking buildings to save the lives of many.

Happy Black History Month.


  1. Mynipzaintpank says

    I use traffic lights to help teach my toddlers colors

    I learned about Garret A. Morgan when I was 9 yrs old and since there are 3 generations of firefighters and fire chiefs on my kids’ father’s side of the fam, this was the first Black History lesson for my babies

    My daughter is exceptional and this info was
    repeated in her daycare classroom so she is
    using the info I teach to inform others

    She doesnt get the concept of race and skin color yet cuz of the difference in pigmentation in her family but she knows those inventions were powerful and important.