“1,001 Black Inventions” enlightens, inspires, entertains

Caitlin Maloney, Staff Writer

Four actors from Pin Points Theatre in Washington brought their enlightening play, “1,001 Black Inventions,” to the LC Forum on Feb. 21. Hosted by the Black Student Union (BSU), the actors empowered the audience through edutainment, as is their motto, by recounting the history of significant African and African American inventions and inventors.

The play began with a skit featuring the narrator, played by actress Lynn Horton, and “the machine,” played by Ersky Freeman and Linda Evans, which functioned as a contraption that spit out information regarding the “1,001 black inventions.” This skit morphed into a hospital scene in which a man is dying from a heart wound off-stage while two doctors, one white man and one African American man, discuss the patient’s chances of survival. The white doctor, played by Justin Mohay, argued that open heart surgery had never been performed and the patient’s condition is hopeless. However, the African American doctor, played by Freeman, was willing to take the necessary risk to save the patient’s life. He became the first person to ever perform open heart surgery.

The play involved several other skits about inventions and inventors, ranging from a scene with a man who invented the shoe lasting machine, Jan Ernst Matzeliger; to the narrator recounting Granville T. Woods’ success in creating batteries, fuses, and the telephone transmitter, among others; to a court case skit that addressed George Washington Carver’s contributions as a botanist, such as the sweet potato, dyes, and the peanut as we know it and love it today.

During the last scene, all four actors entered the “twilight zone” in which inventions by black inventors did not exist. In this scene, it is evident that life as we know it would be drastically different without the contributions of these inventors.

To name just a few of these 1,001 inventions, Africans and African Americans have invented the paper bag, vending machines, telephone transmitters for long distance phone calls, the ironing board, traffic lights, safety helmets, Ajax, the mop, gas masks, air conditioning, aspirin, the bicycle, the fountain pen, mathematics, and portable scales, among many others.

“We [Africans and African Americans] are constantly known as athletes, entertainers, criminals and derelicts; but our foremost contributions to society are of the intellect,” Horton said.

“I really enjoyed the play! It was something different that I have never seen at Bucknell in all my four years here. I loved how the actors put a comedic spin on the topic; this made it more enjoyable and engaging to watch. As an African American woman, I truly appreciated how the skit emphasized the intellectual contributions of African Americans throughout history, as opposed to the typical athletic or entertainment things we’ve done. The skits were also very uplifting to the African American community and portrayed us in such a positive light. Overall, it was fun, educational, and inspiring,” Kortney Marshall ’16 said.

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