In celebration of Black History Month, Southern California Edison (SCE) hosted its sixth annual “Connecting the Evolution of Electricity to Black History” event in Irwindale at its Customer Technology Application Center.
Community- and faith-based organizations from throughout Southern California joined SCE employees, managers, executives from African American-owned businesses in recognizing the contributions made by African Americans to modern technology, especially electricity. This event will also highlight the area’s inventors of the past, present and future.
“African American inventors have made significant contributions to modern technology and the electric industry,” said SCE’s Afarah Board, event coordinator.

During the event, students from A-MAN made a special presentation related to electricity. A-MAN is a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that was founded in 1991 by Hal and Bettye Walker. A-MAN’s mission is to use science and technology as a motivational tool to promote the educational advancement of African American students while increasing their opportunities for careers in the fields of science and technology.
The keynote speaker for the event was Charmaine Jefferson, executive director of the California African American Museum (CAAM) and executive vice president of its nonprofit organization Friends, the foundation of the California African American Museum. Jefferson oversees the collection of art exhibits, preservation of historical artifacts and controls the presentation of items displayed at CAAM that represents the art, history and culture of African Americans.
Chris Schauble, reporter and anchor at NBC4 emceed the event. Schauble recently was named to the “40 under 40” list by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Since joining KNBC-4 in June 2001 he has won a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award and shared in five Golden Mike Awards. Prior to joining KNBC-4, Schauble worked in Denver, Colorado where his extensive coverage of the Columbine High School shooting helped the station earn a local area Emmy for best spot news.
On display at the event was artifacts of famed inventor Thomas A. Edison, as well as Louis Latimer, an African American inventor, patent expert and draftsman. Guests were introduced to biographical information on dozens of African Americans who have contributed to the development of modern technology, including: Mark Dean, who has more than 30 patents and invented the first 1- gigahertz processor chip; Thomas Mensah, who has seven patents in fiber optics, three in fiber optic guided missile technology and four in manufacturing fiber optics inexpensively; Emmett W. Chappelle who worked with NASA and developed techniques used to detect bacteria in urine, blood, spinal fluids, drinking water and foods; and John B. Christian who invented and patented new lubricants used in high flying aircraft and NASA space missions.
More information about African American inventors is available at www.sce.com/inventors.