LEWIS LATIMER 1848 – 1928 INVENTOR OF THE LIGHT BULB
Lewis Latimer inventor, draftsman, engineer, author, poet, musician, and, at the same time, a devoted family man and philanthropist, born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848, invented the water closet for railroad cars - the electric lamp with an inexpensive carbon filament and a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs, which he patented. In 1882 he assigned this patent and others to the U.S. Electric Lighting Company. A year earlier -- 1881 -- he supervised the installation of the electric lights in New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, and London.
Latimer drafted the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell's patent application for the telephone, spending long nights with the inventor. Bell rushed his patent application to the patent office mere hours ahead of the competition and won the patent rights to the telephone with the help of Latimer.
Lewis Latimer was the original draftsman for Thomas Edison (who he started working for in 1884) and as such was the star witness in Edison's infringement suits. As an expert witness Latimer defended Edison's patents in court. Edison won his cases based on Latimer's vast knowledge of electrical patents. Lewis Latimer was the only African American member of the twenty-four "Edison Principles", Thomas Edison's engineering division of the Edison Company. Lewis Latimer was instrumental is getting Black workers into the new IBEW electricians union. The older traditional trades were closed to blacks due to family sponsorship.
According to Black History Latimer also authored a book on electricity published in 1890 called, "Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System." Lewis Latimer worked for civil rights organizations, and taught recent immigrants mechanical drawings and the English language in a New York City community center. Upon his death in 1928 the whole world mourned and in honor of his significant contributions to America's industrial revolution, the Lewis H. Latimer Public School, dedicated on May 10, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York, bears his noble name.