Biden claims a black man invested the light bulb

‘A black man invented the light-bulb’: Joe Biden makes false claim about Thomas Edison invention – and then a tone deaf quip that aides will ‘shoot me’ during visit to family of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin 

  • Joe Biden said a black man invented the light bulb, ‘not a white guy named [Thomas] Edison’ on Thursday
  • Biden gave a speech to community leaders in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after meeting privately with the family of Jacob Blake
  • Biden may be referring to Lewis Howard Latimer, a black man who worked with light bulb inventor Thomas Edison and improved his carbon filaments
  • During the speech, Biden also quipped the audience ‘will shoot me’ if he continued talking about his tax policies 
  • Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back on August 23 by law enforcement  

Joe Biden on Thursday said that a black man created the light bulb, ‘not a white guy named Edison’ during a speech while in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  

Biden made the remark at the Grace Lutheran Church while speaking with community leaders after a private meeting with the family of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old father who was shot seven times in front of his children this month.

He traveled to the embattled city after President Trump made an appearance earlier this week, despite push back from local leaders and the Blake family refusing to meet with him.

In footage shared to social media, Biden addressed instances of racial inequality in institutions, including the education system.

‘I cannot guarantee everything gets solved in four years, but I guarantee you one thing, it will be a whole heck of a lot better,’ said Biden. 

‘Why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes,’ he questions. ‘A black man invested the light bulb not a white guy named Edison.

‘There’s so much. Did anybody know?’

Thomas Edison, known as the ‘Father of Invention,’ was first credited with creating the light bulb in 1979 and patented it in January 27, 1880.

The Department of Energy in 2013 wrote: ‘When Edison and his researchers at Menlo Park came onto the lighting scene, they focused on improving the filament — first testing carbon, then platinum, before finally returning to a carbon filament. 

Joe Biden (pictured) spoke before community leaders in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Thursday after meeting the the family of Jacob Blake


Although Thomas Edison (left) is credited the creating the light bulb in 1879, Lewis Howard Latimer (right) improved the initial design with carbon filament  after he joined Edison’s team in 1884

‘By October 1879, Edison’s team had produced a light bulb with a carbonized filament of uncoated cotton thread that could last for 14.5 hours.’ 

Edison’s official claim to the light bulb came amid similar, competing visions from other inventors who were researching how best to distribute light during that time.

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer was born on September 4, 1848 and died December 11, 1928. 

‘Lewis Latimer invented a method for producing a more durable carbon filament, making incandescent lighting practical and affordable for consumers,’ according to Invent.org 

Although the Latimer, the son of slaves, had no formal education in science, he pursued the industry after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. 

He taught himself mechanical drawing and drafting, and even made drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s first patent application for the telephone.    

After joining Edison’s team in 1884, Latimer was key in the distribution of light in urban areas.

‘Despite the societal roadblocks a black man faced in the late nineteenth century, Latimer successfully oversaw the set up of electric lighting plants in the United States, Canada, and England,’ invent.org wrote.

‘After leaving U.S. Electric Lighting, Latimer worked for Thomas Edison and became a patent investigator and expert witness for the Edison Electric Light Company. ‘

He’s credited with patenting the first ‘practical incandescent,’ light bulb and the first electric power station, Grist reports.

Historians have traditionally credited Edison with creating the light bulb in 1879, which was patented in 1880. 

Lewis Howard Latimer of Chelsea, Massachusetts, joined Edison’s lab in 1884 after becoming a skilled inventor and draftsman in the post-Civil War era. 

Latimer, who wrote ‘Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System’ in 1890, was the one who made carbon filaments for light bulbs. 

Some historians have argued that Edison’s inventions successfully came to light not just on self-inventiveness.

Ernest Freeberg, author if The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America, argued that Edison’s success came largely from a team effort. 

‘He was in a very competitive race where he borrowed—some said stole—ideas from other inventors who were also working on an incandescent bulb,’ Freeberg told US News. 

‘What made him ultimately successful was that he was not a lone inventor, a lone genius, but rather the assembler of the first research and development team at Menlo Park, N.J.’ 

But on Thursday, Biden continued to implore Wisconsin residents to reevaluate history classes to include a well-rounded interpretation of history. 

‘That Black Wall Street in Oklahoma was burned to the ground. [Did] anybody know these things? Because we don’t teach them,’ Biden said.  

‘We’ve got to give people facts. Teach them what’s out there,’ he added.   

The National Council for Social Studies reported in 2017 that only seven of the 50 states had Black History Month mandates in schools.  

The Black Wall Street Massacre, also known as the Tulsa race massacre, was when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and destroyed black businesses in the Greenwood District.

More than 800 people were injured, 36 people died and 35 square blocks of the district were leveled at a time when the area was known as the wealthiest black community in the U.S.

Thousands of black Americans were interned at camps in the days following as white residents claimed the attack was spurred by allegations that a black boy had assaulted a white elevator operator. 

During his speech, Biden’s attempts to address racial inequality led to government policies and taxes. 

While reportedly referring to a number of audience members who appear restless during is speech, Biden says he’ll stop discussing the extent of his tax policy before ‘they’ll shoot me.’

Biden: ”Why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes. A black man invested the light bulb not a white guy named Edison’

’19 corporations making a billion dollars a piece don’t pay a single thing in taxes. I don’t want to punish anybody, but everyone should pay their fair share.

‘Not going to lay [it all out] right now because they’ll shoot me,’ Biden says in the footage. 

The phrasing came after he met with Jacob Blake Sr. and the Blake family following the death of Jacob Blake.  

In the August 23 shooting, police arrived to the 2800 block of 40th Street in Kenosha after Blake’s girlfriend ‘reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises’.

Officers tried to subdue him with a taser before opening fire, authorities said.

During an investigation Blake admitted to police that he had a knife and authorities recovered it from the driver’s side floorboard of car after opening fire. No other weapons were found at the scene.     

It was speculated that Trump would met with the family on his trip to Kenosha, but Trump declined when the family requested lawyers be involved. 

Jacob Blake, 29, has been left paralyzed from the waist down in Sunday’s shooting

‘I’m not going to play politics. This is my son’s life we’re talking about.’ Jacob Blake Sr. told CNN.

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