Joe Biden Said A Black Man Invented The Light Bulb?
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently made some dubious claims regarding the invention of the light in a recent town hall meeting. Biden spoke at a town hall event in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he remarked on why history classes don’t teach that “A black guy invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Thomas Edison”, as covered by C-SPAN. The video of the event was also uploaded to Joe Biden’s verified YouTube channel, timestamped at the relevant moment in the link.
While Biden doesn’t mention specifically which black man he is referring to, he is most likely referring to inventor Lewis Howard Latimer. Latimer served as a lieutenant during the Civil War and afterward became a skilled draftsman and designer. Latimer served as an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and later became a member of Edison’s research team working in the Edison Electric Light Company.
Thomas Edison first patented the design of the incandescent light bulb in 1880. The original design of the light bulb included a filament of paper that glowed when electrified. However, the paper filaments didn’t last for long and burnt out quickly.
Latimer is credited with patenting the “Durable Carbon Filament for Electric Light Bulbs” in 1882. This was an improvement over Edison’s first design as the carbon filament lasted longer and hence the bulbs burnt out less frequently. Latimer also made improvements such as the ubiquitous threaded socket design for the bulb.
While Latimer was indeed a very important inventor in history and made significant contributions in advancing the technology, it is inaccurate to claim that he is the inventor of the light bulb.