After Dark: Black Excellence, Black Invention

Thursday, February 16, 2023 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.

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Adults Only (18+)

Note: Free for members and donors—only a membership card and ID required for entry. The Tactile Dome is currently closed.

From the man behind the modern traffic light to the minds who helped land the first man on the moon, Black inventors have transformed the fabric of our world. Presented in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library in celebration of their exhibition Black Excellence, Black Invention, tonight’s After Dark takes a close look at the rich and often overlooked stories of a selection of Black inventions and the people responsible for them. Join curators Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott and Shawna Sherman and exhibition partners Henry Lowood and Garrett Morgan IV as they dive into these stories, tracing a noncommercial view of Black invention that shows how it is joyful and resistant. Learn about the extensive impact of Black invention in Silicon Valley from historian and storyteller Kathy Cotton. And be inspired by the genius of Black invention that continues to shape the world around us.

Black Excellence, Black Invention is on view at San Francisco Public Library’s Bayview branch now through March 2, 2023.

Photo: Inventor Charles S.L. Baker and another man, possibly Baker’s brother Peter, standing behind their heating (radiator) system.

Exhibit Tour: Black Invention, Black Scientists
With Desiré Whitmore

7:00 p.m.

Join Exploratorium Senior Physics Educator Desiré Whitmore for a special tour of some of her favorite exhibits that connect to scientific discoveries by Black scientists.

Desiré Whitmore, a.k.a. “LaserChick,” earned a PhD in chemical and material physics from UC Irvine, where her research focused on developing very fast laser and microscope systems that could capture molecules vibrating and rotating in real time.

Black Excellence, Black Invention
With Henry Lowood, Garrett Morgan IV, Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott, and Shawna Sherman

7:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Have you ever wondered who you have to thank for common inventions that make our lives easier today? For decades, Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott has chased the stories of Black inventors who have had colossal yet under-recognized impacts on the world.  Join her and her fellow contributors to Black Excellence, Black Invention to learn more about these innovators, how acknowledgement and celebration of their work has been suppressed, and how their memories can be preserved and added to the historical canon.

Henry Lowood is the Harold C. Hohbach Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections and the Curator for Film & Media Collections in the Stanford University Libraries.

Garrett Morgan IV is an artist, a master mold maker at Heath Ceramics, and the great-grandson of renowned inventor Garrett Morgan.

Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott is the curator of the San Francisco Public Library exhibition Black Excellence, Black Invention and the creator of the Black Excellence bookmark series.

Moderated by Shawna Sherman, San Francisco Public Library’s African American Center Manager.

Black Invention in Silicon Valley
With Kathy Cotton

8:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Silicon Valley is recognized as a global center for scientific and technological innovation. Less known, and often absent from the public record, are the Black American innovators who were a vital part of its development. Join Kathy Cotton, a filmmaker documenting Black contributions to the South Bay technology industry, to learn more about the Black inventors and scientists who have transformed tech—and hear why it’s important that these histories are documented.

Kathy Cotton is working to bring the history of Black Americans in technology past and present to light. Her latest documentary, A Place at the Table, features the Black American pioneers of Silicon Valley.

Revealing Stories: Garrett Morgan 
With Garrett Morgan IV

8:45 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

As an inventor, Garrett Morgan (1877–1963) grew a rich catalog of patents, from the three-signal traffic light to popular hair products. Tonight, meet his great-grandson, Garrett Morgan IV, and learn more about Morgan’s inventions as well as his vital role as a civic leader. Hear from Morgan IV about the surprising ways he’s learning his family history, how his great-grandfather  prompted change in his Ohio community, and the importance of digging into historical records to share unheard stories.

VR for Safety
With Pam Isom

6:30–9:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Learn how VR is being used for safety applications and trainings that may help first responders be more adept at handling emergencies.

Pamela Isom is the Chief Innovation Officer at FWG Solutions. She formerly served as Director of the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office for the United States Department of Energy.

Black Women Inventors, Creators, and Scientists
With Career Girls

6:00–10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Microcinema

Discover a selection of short video interviews created by Career Girls and dive into the innovations of amazing women working across tech and engineering toward impactful breakthroughs in STEM. The videos present viewers of any age with role models whose career paths can be inspiration for exploring STEM fields.

Career Girls is founded on the dream that every girl around the world should have access to diverse and accomplished women role models in order to learn from their experiences and discover paths to empowerment.

Invention Gallery
6:00–10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Take a look at a selection of essential objects, materials, and tools created by Black inventors, and learn a little about each inventor’s story.

Black Excellence Bookmarks
By Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott

6:00–10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Through her Black Excellence bookmarks series, Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott uncovers and shares the stories of Black inventors. Featuring innovators ranging from NASA’s “Hidden Figures” to the Bayview’s own Eric Williams—who holds 20 patents including breakthrough technology in heart stents—the bookmarks are keepsakes that honor and share transformative and essential work and the leaders behind it.

Domingo & Friends
7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Get ready to dance—and maybe even sing along!—to a unique blend of jazz, soul, and blues. Led by Domingo Balinton, whose musical education began in the Fillmore District’s heyday as the “Harlem of the West,” Domingo & Friends brings together accomplished musicians who have been performing for over 50 years.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase at our Seaglass Restaurant and additional bar locations.

Curious about what to expect during your visit? Check out our current safety protocols and guidelines.