Five African-American Groundbreakers Who Revolutionized the Construction Industry

Feb 1, 2023 8:00:00 AM / by Neal Stewart

With the start of Black History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the contributions Black Americans have made to the construction industry.  From inventing groundbreaking technologies to pioneering new processes and systems, these individuals made significant contributions that helped shape our industry into what it is today. To honor their legacy, let’s look at five Black Americans who have made lasting impressions on the construction industry. 

 Granville T Woods

Granville T. Woods 

Granville T. Woods was an African American inventor and engineer who made numerous innovations in the fields of electricity and telecommunications during the late 19th century. He invented several electrical devices, including an improved telephone transmitter that allowed users to talk over long distances without losing connection quality, as well as a device that helped send multiple signals over telegraph lines simultaneously. His inventions were instrumental in connecting railway systems across America, allowing for much faster travel between cities at a time when trains were still the primary form of transportation.  


Lewis Latimer 

Lewis Latimer was an African American inventor and draftsman whose work with electric lighting revolutionized street lighting around the world. He worked with Thomas Edison on his electric light bulb designs and was responsible for helping develop the infrastructure needed to install electricity in homes and businesses across America. His invention of carbon filaments also greatly improved light bulb efficiency and durability, paving the way for future improvements in electric lighting technology.  




John P. Thomson  

Inventor of the Automatic Brick-Making Machine John P. Thomson was an inventor from Pittsburgh whose most notable contribution to the construction industry was his invention of the automatic brick-making machine in 1892. The machine allowed masons to produce high-quality bricks quickly and efficiently, revolutionizing the way masonry products were produced and used in construction projects. His patent for this device was later sold for $25,000, a substantial sum at that time.  

hiram-r-revelsHiram Revels

Hiram Revels was a Mississippi senator and the first African-American to serve in Congress. He was also an early pioneer of black education as he founded several schools for African-Americans throughout Mississippi. As someone deeply involved in politics and education, Revels was instrumental in pushing for legislation that improved conditions for black workers on construction sites throughout Mississippi. He helped pass legislation that provided better wages and working conditions for African-American laborers, which led to improved living standards for many people in his state.  





Robert Robinson Taylor 

Robert Robinson Taylor was an architect and also the first African-American student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Taylor studied engineering at Tuskegee Institute under Booker T. Washington before launching his own successful architectural practice in Cleveland, Ohio.  

These five amazing individuals are just a few examples among many incredible Black Americans who have contributed to the Construction industry throughout history to make life better here in America and around the world! Their stories should be remembered not only because they helped revolutionize our industry but because they serve as inspiration today.  




Topics: Black History Month, Construction

Neal Stewart

Written by Neal Stewart