In honor of Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month

Hello, Bellas!

In honor of Black History Month – which began on February 1st – we would like to share some facts regarding some amazing Black women and their many contributions to the world.

The first is inventor and entrepreneur, Sarah Elisabeth Goode

Born in 1850, Sarah was the first Black woman to receive a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After moving to Chicago in 1870, Sarah began to notice the cramped living condition and limited space within her and others' Chicago apartments. That’s when she created her famous invention, the Folding Bed Cabinet. This invention became the modern-day Murphy bed. 

While we don’t have much information to go on regarding Sarah E. Good, one author has expressed that, “Goode's invention responded to a late nineteenth-century [Victorian] demand for furniture that served more than one purpose." She brought more space and convenience to the lives of many, and her invention continues to do so today.

Thank you, Sarah!

Next up, meet Mary Kenner

Another Black inventor and patent holder is Mary Kenner. Born in 1912, Mary created many products that we still use today.

According to,, “Kenner patented multiple inventions in her ’40s, however, she began inventing at age six when she attempted to invent a self-oiling door hinge. Invention ran in the family. Her maternal grandfather Robert Phromeberger’s most notable inventions were a tricolor light signal for trains and a stretcher with wheels for ambulances. In 1914, her father patented a clothes presser that could fit in a suitcase. In 1980, her sister invented “Family Treedition,” a family board game.”

Mary’s first patent was in 1957 for the sanitary belt. She created the sanitary belt to prevent the leakage of menstrual blood on clothing, which was a very common problem for women at the time. Prior to her invention, women’s method of dealing with that time of the month was far less than convenient, and Mary sought to change that. We can only Imagine what it must have been like for her to talk about a taboo subject such as menstruation as a black woman in America at the time. 

Her other inventions include

  • An attachment for a walker or wheelchair that came equipped with a hard-surfaced tray and a soft pocket for carrying items. 
  • She and her sister invented a toilet paper holder they patented in 1982. 
  • Her final patent, granted on September 29, 1987, was for a mounted back washer and massager.

She still maintains the record for the most patents held by a black woman to this day.

Thank you, Mary!

Last but not least, let’s get to know Janet Emerson Bashen

Born in 1957, Janet Emerson Banshen is the President and CEO of Bashen Corp, a Human Resources Consulting firm that provides end-to-end EEO Compliance administration services. She is the first Black woman to hold a patent for a software invention awarded in 2006. 

Janet grew up in Ohio, and she has stated that growing up in the South – as a Black woman – is what sparked her interest in social inequity and diversity: 

“My success and failures make me who I am and who I am is a black woman raised in the south by working-class parents who tried to give me a better life by fostering a fervent commitment to succeed.”

According to, “The patented software, LinkLine, is a web-based application for Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) claims intake and tracking, claims management, and document management. Bashen has been inducted into the Black Inventors Hall of Fame and is the recipient of numerous awards for her business and technological achievements.”

Her list of accomplishments is as follows: 

  • National Association of Negro Women in Business Crystal Award
  • Black Inventors Hall of Fame
  • Houston, Texas Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award

Thank you, Janet!

The list goes on

There are many, many further influential Black women inventors and entrepreneurs. We encourage you to take a look for yourself at the pivotal, groundbreaking work Black women or men have given the world.

To keep up with all things Black business (globally), check out the Shoppe Black website and the Black Enterprise. For tech-specific related news in the Black community, check out the Black Women Talk Tech website.

At BellaVita, we are humbled by the inventions of Black women and greatly appreciate the contributions of so many. 

Until next week, Ciao Bellas!

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