Meet Black Man Who Invented The Light Bulb And Telephone [Lewis Latimer]

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Growing up as a young Black child, very little is thought to you about Black inventors like Lewis Latimer and magnificent Black civilizations. The school’s curriculum around the world, and especially in Africa focuses more on the Caucasian inventors of the world.

No one teaches our children of men like Lewis. Lewis Latimer remains to date the Africans who made the most impact on the world in the 20th century. He co-founded the telephone and the durable light bulb.

Lewis was born in 1848 to an enslaved African family that fled captivity and settled in Boston. A slave owner named James B. Gray claimed ownership of his father George Latimer. Great figure of the abolitionist movement; Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison, (a white man and renowned liberator), defended the Latimer family, and George Latimer’s freedom was bought with $400.


Lewis was barely 10 when his father left home, as a small means of income, he sold the William .L. Garrison’s diary.

Lewis Latimer served in President Lincoln’s navy during the American civil war, and at 17, returned to Boston. Being talented in drawing, he got employed by the Crosby and Gould firm where he worked for 11 years.

Lewis patented his first invention in February 10th, 1874. It was a water closet for railroad cars. Thereafter, he worked as an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell and in 1876, designs the description required for the patent filing of the telephone; in other words, a black man concluded the world-changing invention of the telephone. Afterward, Maxim Hiram, inventor of a machine gun, hires him as a designer.

Lewis Latimer | Source: Wikipedia

Lewis Latimer would later join the renowned Edison Company as an engineer. At the time, Edison’s 1879 invention of the electric bulb was only designed with bamboo filament, paper, and medium quality carbon and burned out after 30 hours.

Latimer knew there was more to be done. In 1881, Lewis alongside friend Joseph .U. Nichols patented a light bulb that had superior quality carbon filament that would become the long-lasting light bulb. 1882, the patented his method of manufacturing and assembling of carbon filaments.

Those days, light bulbs were lighted in series, if one died, the others went off, then he came up with the concept of parallel arrangement which ended up solving the problem of other bulbs going off. This will bring about the era of electric bulbs in the world.


Lewis led the installation of the electric light system both in Philadelphia, Montreal, Canada and in London, where he mounted the incandescent lights for Maxim-Weston electric light Company.  As an associate of Thomas Edison in the engineering department of the Edison Electric Light Company, New York, he later in 1890, released the first book on electric lightening system in the United State. It was the first of its kind.

The world-changer passed on in 1928 after a long battle with illness. This African is still celebrated to date as a revolutionary inventor of the 20th century.

His contributions are a testament to the amazing mind and ingenuity of the Black man. Till today the world enjoys his contributions to modern science.

It is because of deeds such as these that we focus more on history at Liberty Writers Africa. If the younger and future Black generations know that they are higher stakeholders in the project and advancement of humanity, they would hold their heads high and demand respect.


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24 COMMENTS

  1. You have been lied to by those who go around claiming and stealing inventions that they have no claim to.

  2. The light bulb itself was invented by Thomas Edison, but the innovation used to create longer-lasting light bulbs with a carbon filament came from African-American inventor Lewis Latimer.

  3. I was excited to read your website, but I have to admit you should have someone
    proof-read your copy . . .it doesn’t always read that well. Is this being translated?

  4. He didn’t invent the lightbulb, but he did improve it with his patented carbon filament. He was also the patent draftsman, which means he illustrated the patent. Very cool!

  5. I am sorry, but your sheer amount of grammatical and spelling errors make this hard to read. Aside from that, most of what you wrote is true. Some of it is highly exaggerated, like the parallel vs series wiring. Both of those things were very well known by 1879 and those concepts were well understood. In fact, Edisons lights never had the issue of going out that you describe, his commercial units were wired mostly in parallel. Only decorative bulbs were wired in series, to save on cost of bulk material. Also, he did NOT invent the lightbulb, he invented a means to mass commercialisation of the lightbulb. There is a big difference here. The lightbulb was actually invented in the early 1800’s in Europe, but work terribly. Edison began trying to perfect the basic design, and Lewis did.
    Everything else is accurate 🙂

    To expand on the above commenters confusion, Nikola Tesla did not invent lightbulbs, or even attempt to experiment on the incandescent. Instead experimented on Fluorescent lightbulbs and Gas – Tubes .

  6. He didn’t invent the light bulb he redesigned the carbon filiment for the light bulb ,tell the truth.And please explain how he invented the telephone?Cant wait for the next article I guess Marconi stole the radio ? If the black man is so damn smart then why is it millions of whites have guns and don’t kill eachother but every damn day in Chicago a few hundred Blacks with guns kill innocents ? Guess they invented that!

  7. To the ppl for the ppl by the ppl keep growing. Knowledge is key!!! Love your ppl & who said we don’t stick together

  8. Tesla was known for inventing Alternating Current (AC) as Edison was pushing Direct Current (DC) that required very large cables to deliver the current. AC didn’t need the heavy wires and could travel long distances so the need for Edison’s many generating stations were not needed.

  9. You are the one claiming inventions by Latimer who has at best a minor claim to light bulb improvement, but clearly none to the telephone.

    Latimer worked for Bell as a Draftsman, his job was to draw the diagrams for patent, after the telephone was already invented and tested.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Howard_Latimer

    The light bulb was invented and demonstrated before Louis Latimer, Edison, or Tesla were born…

    John Starr in conjunction with John Milton Sanders are the most likely first light bulb inventors…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wellington_Starr
    Nikoli Tesla,
    Joseph Swann,
    Thomas Edison,
    and Louis Latimer along with his co inventors etc.

    All have claims to the light bulb as we know it today (or at least as we knew it 20 years ago before recent improvements in fluorescent/LED) as well as hundreds of people who were working with them/in competition with them.

    Edison didn’t invent the light bulb, Edison’s company improved the light bulb to the point it was commercially viable for home use and not just a 30 hr science experiment.

    But lets ignore that Edison didn’t invent the light bulb,

    Latimer was a Paid Engineer for Edison, the company was working on light bulbs before he was hired, and after his departure. Just like Dupont is known for the invention of nylon (not Dr. Carothers their employee).

    All have better claims than Latimer to the “inventor of light bulb” claim.

    A short article explaining Latimer’s contributions to the Edison light bulb would be interesting, A misleading article claiming inventor-ship of the electric light bulb by one of many of the Engineers and research assistants instead of the people who PAID HIM TO DO THE RESEARCH UNDER THEIR DIRECTION, is just clearly propaganda. Way to show off the African American’s contributions to the news and publishing industry btw, if you are going to run a Africa central .

    Latimer was inducted into the Inventors hall of fame, so he has gotten a share of the glory, possibly more than he deserved.

    Also your editor dept is crap, the 11th word should be “taught” , not “thought”, the claim of the title is clearly not supported by the article, the article makes claims easily falsifiable by historical documents, while providing no counter documents to back up its claims.

    This is clearly an opinion piece with no sources that was easily debunk-able with Wikipedia searches by looking at their supporting documents, since author provides no sources of their own that counter the sources on Wikipedia, one must assume they have no actual research to back up their claims.

    Also this BS site has repeating ad popups when clicking on things like comment box etc. Super shady, I’m glad your click bait title got enough of my attention to get you some revenue trying to explain how deceptive it is… I imagine you will also delete this post.

  10. Tesla invented the fluorescent light bulb, Not the filament light bulb. And he didn’t steal anyone’s inventions that was Edison who stole.

  11. Many inventions were stolen from Nikola Tesla since he didn’t want credit or money since actually cared about people. Edison was a thief like Marconi.

  12. It is wonderful to see the truth finally come out as I was taught at school a bunch of lies.
    What other lies have they been teaching us in this world

  13. Total nonsense. Humphrey Davy a white English chemist was the first to pass current through a wire and create light.. His invention was known as the Electric Arc lamp… Warren de La Rue a white British Chemist created the first lightbulb around 1839. But it was uneconomical and didnt last long. Another white British chemist, named: Joseph Swan, made a commercially viable version in 1878 a year before Thomas Edision and his mate Lewis had a go..

  14. Well, white people knows that they are the problems of the world from beginning till the present. God bles black Nations and every blacks in the world with good missions this world. White should stop taking blacks glory from now on.

  15. I love when certain people get in a uproar about things that challenges there one sided education ! The point is none of his story is taught in high schools what so ever …lol

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