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Light Em Up!!

Lewis Latimer (1848–1928) one of the first successful African American inventors. He worked with famous inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. However, Lewis was most well known for inventing the carbon filament for the electric light bulb. Edison's original prototypical light bulb was lit by a glowing, electrified filament made of paper, which unfortunately burnt out rather quickly. Lewis took Edison's design and added his carbon filament which made the bulb light many times longer. This made the light bulbs less expensive and more efficient. This also made it possible for electric lighting to be installed within homes, towns, cities, transportation vehicles and all around the world. 


Mount Vernon Classic Car Club Salutes Wendell Scott

to Wendell Scott for being inducted into the 
NASCAR Hall Of Fame
Class of 2015 

Wendell Scott was the first African American to win a NASCAR race. He won on December 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville Florida, a one-mile dirt track. Scott beat Buck Baker to become the only African American to win on NASCAR's highest level.

Initially, NASCAR officials refused to wave the checkered flag or acknowledge Scott as the winner. They were afraid of how the southern crowd would react to Wendell winning the race. Instead, they awarded the winner's purse and trophy to second place runner up, Buck Baker. After Scott and his team protested NASCAR officials finally conceded and declared Scott the winner. But this was done after the crowds and other race car drivers were long gone. Scott got the winner's purse but never received his trophy nor did he get to hear his name announced in the winner's circle.

Wendell did not let the Jacksonville incident, people telling him he can't do something or prejudice attitudes of many at the local race tracks stop him. He continued to compete and push his race cars to it's limits. He gave those good old boys as much as they could handle. As word of his racing success spread, Scott gained fans who would yell from the crowd "Give Em Hell Wendell!". So with that, the Mount Vernon Classic Club salutes Mr. Wendell Scott and wave the checkered flag for a true American Hero.

Charlie Wiggins an African American pioneer on the racetrack, Wiggins fought segregation in the sport in the early 1900s. Repeatedly denied from the Indianapolis 500, Wiggins and other colored drivers formed their own racing association and competed among themselves.

Dubbed “The Negro Speed King,” Charlie won three of the first six races of the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, an annual 100-mile speed ...race for African American driver.

A skilled mechanic, Wiggins was asked by “Wild Bill” Cummings, a top AAA competitor, to serve in his pit crew for the Indianapolis 500. Due to the Raceway’s strict rules of segregation, he was officially hired as a janitor, while secretly tuning up Cummings’ car for the race, which he won.

During the 1936 Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, Charlie was involved in a 13-car wreck that resulted in his right leg being amputated—abruptly ending his racing career, as well as the future of the all-African American event, which lost its biggest star.

Despite his injury Wiggins continued to fight the segregationist practices of the American Automobile Association while also training young African American mechanics until his death in 1979 at the age of 82.

Charlie Wiggins An American Pioneer On The Racetrack

The Man and theTraffic Signal

Garrett Morgan (March 4, 1877 – July 27, 1963) The traffic chaos Garett Morgan witness on the streets of Cleveland Ohio inspired him to design the first traffic signal. In the early 1920s Morgan saw a terrible accident between an automobile and a horse drawn cart where a little girl was seriously injured.

Morgan realized that the present system of using traffic cops was not working. So, Morgan decided that a better device to control the traffic was needed.

Morgan put his mind to work and on November 1st 1923 he was granted a patent for the country's first traffic signal. The semaphore signal was a manually operated design with moving arms that displayed STOP, GO & CAUTION.

His traffic signal was placed on Euclid and E 9th St in the City of Cleveland and was an immediate success. 

General Electric realized that Morgan's traffic signal had great potential bought his patent for $40,000 and later converted his semaphore signal design to the red, yellow & green traffic light we see today.

Big Willie Robinson (1942-2012) was a legendary street racer who bridged the gap between the people, A-listers, and lawmakers in the mid-60s, bringing peace to a racially torn Los Angeles. After the Watts riots in 1965, the city was on the edge of implosion, with rival gangs and police warring in the streets. The six-foot, six-inch, 300-pound Big Willie returned home from the Vietnam War to become one of the most influential men in LA history. Using his larger than life persona and build, he brought mortal enemies together through a passion for cars and street racing.

Big Willie Robinson

The Automatic Transmission

Richard Bowie Spikes (1878–1963) was a a prolific African American inventor with more than a dozen patents to his name. His primary interests was in automobile mechanics. Spikes received a patent for an automatic gear shift for cars which led to the automatic transmission. He then invented a beer keg tap which Milwaukee Brewing Company eventually purchased.

Later he invented an automobile directional signal, which was first introduced in the Pierce Arrow, and soon became the standard with all automobiles. Spikes also sought to improve the operation of items as varied as barber chairs, trolley cars, trucks and buses. Spikes received over $100,000.00 in the 1930s for all his innovative work.