Garret Morgan (1877-1963) was born in Kentucky, the seventh of eleven children. His father was a former slave and his mother the daughter of a minister. He went to elementary school and at age 15 left his family and went to Ohio. Working as a handyman for a wealthy businessman, he saved enough money to pay for private lessons to better his education.

Morgan became an inventor and entrepreneur who contributed one of the important safety devices that we rely on today. He watched traffic signals at busy intersections go from green to red without warning, causing many automobile collisions. It was Garret Morgan who came up with one of the significant deterrents to hazardous intersections, an automatic traffic signal with the yellow caution warning of the change from green to red.

He also started the National Safety Device Company and received a patent for his smoke hood design in 1914 that was used in a 1916 tunnel construction disaster rescue under Lake Erie. Morgan also developed a chemical hair-processing and straightening solution and then started the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. 

Morgan was well involved in the Cleveland community and helped in the civic and political advancement of African Americans.

Don’t forget: The 30th Anniversary Klingberg Motorcar Event and Pre-war Concours d’Elegance is on June 18.