Black History: Special Delivery!!


Black inventors

Legal Equalizer App: Created To Educate Citizens On Their Rights When Interacting With Law Enforcement

Black History: Special Delivery!!

 law app

Developed by Mbye Njie, the Legal Equalizer App was created to teach citizens about their rights when interacting with law enforcement. Njie is a native of Gambia who now resides in the Atlanta area. Njie was inspired to create the app after a series of what he considered to be unlawful traffic stops. His goal is to share information that would help others who might face a similar situation.

Njie saw the impact that video evidence could have on the outcome of legal cases. The arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland was a catalyst in moving the app from idea to action.  Njie has indicated that he is convinced that if Sandra Bland’s friends or family were notified earlier, her situation may have had a different outcome. If faced with police contact, the app user can record the interaction with law enforcement, get information on legal rights, and notify family members of their location. The app user is able to identify 3 contacts who could be contacted in the event of a traffic stop. Those contacts can be reached by simply by tapping the “SOS” icon on the app. The app also has a record button that individuals can use to film their interaction with law enforcement. The recording is automatically forwarded to a secure server regardless of what happens to the phone.

Njie considers the education feature of the app to be its most important. He reports being randomly pulled over on multiple occasions. After tiring of these experiences, Njie and his friends decided to educate themselves.  Eventually he and his friends became frustrated. They got tired of “feeling like fish that would be tossed back into the stream after being caught”, he said. So, they got educated.  In the end, they realized that knowing your rights was quite empowering. Initial response to the app has been favorable. The app is available for IOS and ‘Android. For more information regarding the app check out:

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Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home Security System Inventor

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Marie Van Brittan Brown & Albert Brown

Black Mail Fast Fact:  Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1977) patented a home security/surveillance device in 1966. She applied for the patent along with her husband, Albert Brown. The home security/surveillance system was created from a motorized camera to show images on a monitor (patent #3,482,037). An additional feature of the home security system was that it could be used to unlock a door via remote control.

In an interview with the New York Times, she shared that she and her husband invented the device due to the slow response times of the police officers in their neighborhood. She felt the invention would help her to feel safer when she was at home alone. Her invention would be a forerunner of today’s modern home security systems.

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Benjamin Thornton: Invented Telephone Message Recorder

 Black History:  Special Delivery!!

benjamin thornton
Benjamin Thornton Patent Drawing

Black Mail Fast Fact: Black inventor, Benjamin Thornton developed a device for recording voice messages from telephones in 1936. His invention was outfitted with a turntable for a record disc, an electric motor to operate the table, and an electric switch that connected it to the phone line. Utilizing a clock attachment, the machine could also forward messages as well as track what time a call was made. The recorder also had an apparatus that allowed the user to record an outgoing message. Devices invented to record phone messages date back to the late 1800s. So Thornton’s invention was not the first of its kind. However, the devices’ ability to both record and send messages, along with its ability to record the time of messages was quite significant. Thornton’s invention was a predecessor to the answering machine.


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Philip B. Downing: Mailbox Inventor

 Black History: Special Delivery!!

Street Letter Box
Street Letter Box

For many years, anyone wishing to mail a letter, would have to go to their local post office. That all changed when Philip B. Downing designed a metal box for storage of mail. He patented this device on October 27, 1891. He called the device a “street letter box”. It is the predecessor of today’s mailbox.

Prior to the “street letter box”, Downing also patented an electrical switch that could be used by railroads. The switch allowed workers to turn power off and on to trains at the appropriate times. Downing’s electrical switch was catalyst for later inventors who would create other types of electrical switches such as light switches.


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