Me & The Dream Exhibit and Program Addresses the Successes and Challenges of African American Inventors
“To my knowledge, it was this man who as a young man in the 1950s, understanding the science of magnetic intensity, received the first official patent on the invention of the cordless telephone. It is my opinion that because of the denigration and discrediting of African-Americans in American history in the 1950s, Raymond Phillips was denied the acclaim that he deserved at that time as the true inventor of the cordless telephone, which is used now by millions throughout the world. – Dr. Jack Evans, President, Southwestern Christian College, Terrell, Texas (as printed in the TilliT newspaper, 2009)
By Angelia D. McGowan
In 2009 a Swedish newspaper TilliT published a feature story on Dr. Raymond Paul Phillips, recognized as the inventor of what is now considered the cordless phone.
TilliT list many of his inventions and patents including his invention of the cordless phone in 1956 and his patent in 1959, of which Dr. Phillips has received little recognition and no royalties according to his family. He died in 2010.
His “challenges were numerous consisting of family, fulltime college student, racism, lack of business skills, and very few options to trust anyone to help him with the patent process,” says his niece Rosalyn Reese. “He always maintained his faith and integrity that his invention would one day be recognized.”
Slowly but surely the family has set up a Facebook page under his name and they are seeking to publish a 100-page manuscript Dr. Phillips and his wife wrote over a 10-year-period to document their experiences. And contemporary publications are starting to validate his story.
Gizmodo.com, published by the Gawker Media Group, reports “Dr. Raymond P. Phillips Sr., an African American inventor from Texas, came up with the idea, but due to the racial tensions of the time, he wasn’t actually recognized as the inventor by the U.S. and European patent offices until 1987.”
This cautionary tale is one Reese will share at the ME & THE DREAM, Inventing My Dream Exhibit and Program presented by the Denver Urban Spectrum Feb. 2-15 at Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The exhibit celebrates Black History Month with a rare display of photographs and memorabilia documenting the visits of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Denver, as well as significant events leading up to Colorado’s official King holiday.
Within the two-week programming, Saturday, Feb. 7 has been designated as “Inventing My Dream Day” where guests can learn how to turn their dreams into reality from a host of professionals, including a USPTO representative, a patent and trademark attorney professors and today’s African American inventors and entrepreneurs.
In addition, historians will address the impact of African American inventors, including James Forten, recognized for inventing a sail hoist, a device that made it easier to maneuver the large sails of mast sailing ships; Lewis Temple, who invented the toggle iron harpoon, the standard harpoon in American whaling history; Norbert Rillieux, who invented the sugar processing vapor and an improved sugar refining process; entrepreneur and philanthropist Madame C.J. Walker, known for revolutionizing the hair care and cosmetics industry for African American women early in the 20th century; and scientist Benjamin Banneker, who created America’s first clock.
The youth component of the “Inventing My Dream Day” will feature an awards ceremony for winners of an essay contest and a keynote by John Guydon, CEO of the Lassy Project, a free service that gives parents and guardians the ability to notify an entire local community about their missing child in seconds. It was borne out of a tragedy that no parent or child should ever experience. On Oct. 5, 2012, a Colorado community was rocked by the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. The Lassy Project honors Jessica’s memory every day by building safer communities, protecting children and by combining social impact and technology.
The Lassy Project surely exist for a number of reasons and because of a host of people, but a big reason is Guydon’s decision to help. With the Ridgeway tragedy tugging at his heart, he contacted the Ridgeway family on Facebook about one month after Jessica went missing. “I wrote a long heartfelt note and sent it,” says Guydon, who counts Jessica’s mom Sarah as part of the Lassy Project’s leadership team.
The University of Colorado graduate who played football for the Big 12 North Championship team has acquired success through the face of adversity since he was a young age, overcoming a stuttering problem and financial woes. Through it all he has demonstrated a relentless ability to find solutions to problems. It’s this tenacity that he brings to his business acumen.
“Just like in life, nothing in business goes as planned,” says Guydon, who has gained valuable experience in the fields of sales and marketing as well as 10 years of mobile messaging expertise. “If you really want to solve the problem and challenge at hand, you will see it to completion.”
Guydon has also become a leading expert in missing child cases to expose the issue of time in recovering abducted children. This, along with his commitment to keep his own family safe, is what drives his passion to create Lassy Project.
ME & THE DREAM, Inventing My Dream Schedule
Saturday, Feb. 7 – Inventing My Dream Day
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – https://meandthedream.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/patenttrademark-experts-inventors/ Dreams, Patents & Trademarks panel with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Denver Regional Office Director Russell Slifer, Faegre Baker Daniels attorney Brian Brown, CSU research scientist Gillian Bowser, and Lacrosse Fit Trainer inventor Joshua Marable.
2 to 3:30 p.m. – Young Inventors, featuring John Guydon, CEO of The Lassy Project
4:30 to 6 p.m. – Dreams Realized: Legacies of Black Inventors panel with historians: UNC Professor George Junne Jr., A Private Guide, Inc. CEO Sid Wilson, Banneker Watches CEO Derrick Holmes, and Rosalyn Reese, Diversity & Outreach Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter.
This day of events is free and is open to the public and will be held on the second floor next to the Coach store and just above the Grand Court.
Editor’s Note: VIP kick-off event on Tuesday, Feb. 3 will include inspirational remarks from the Honorable Wilma J. Webb and former Denver Bronco Rod Smith who will share how he re-invented his life after football. 9News reporter Meagan Fitzgerald will serve as emcee and gospel singer Largressa Munnerlyn will open up the program with song. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the Denver Urban Spectrum’s will present its annual awards ceremony and reception for the 2015 African Americans Who Make A Difference with motivational speaker Charlotte Haymore and special guest saxophonist Tony Exum Jr. Both the Feb. 3 and Feb. 12 events are invitation only.