Black and white photograph from around 1906 shows African American inventor Charles S.L. Baker and another man, possibly Baker's brother Peter, standing behind heating (radiator) system. One man is holding a knob that is attached to two wires.

Black Excellence, Black Invention at Potrero Branch

31 August - 01 November 2022
Potrero General Floor Area

1616 20th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
United States

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Black Excellence, Black Invention explores the legacy of the thousands of Black innovators who have made life easier for individuals, businesses and communities through meaningful contributions and inventions.

Inspired by the Black Excellence bookmark celebrating Black inventors created by Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott, the display uses library materials and archival resources to show how Black invention is joyful and resistant. Centered on a non-commercial view of invention, it highlights historical inventions in science and technology as well as documenting Black achievements in art, music, writing, sports and food culture. By celebrating Black invention, we hope to inspire the next generation of inventors and motivate them to remember that Black excellence and genius is responsible for some of the world’s greatest technological and social achievements, from the traffic light to the super soaker to the peanut and much more.

This exhibit was originally on view in the African American Center at the Main Library, from February to June 2022. 

Banner image: Inventor Charles S.L. Baker with heating system, c. 1906. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Connect to engaging discussions and performances related to the Black community.

More Than a Month recognizes important events in Black history, honors community and national leaders and fosters steps towards collective change. Programming features authors, poets and craft classes.