Explore African-American innovators at Henry Ford Museum

McCoy Lubricator and specification letter inside Henry Ford Museum

Looking for a different way to experience Black History Month? Take a walk through history with us!

As part of this year’s new programming for Celebrate Black History!, on select days each week in February you can take a free guided tour through Henry Ford Museum to learn about different types of innovations and the unique challenges that African Americans have faced in realizing those innovations, both social and technological.

You’ll learn about the accomplishments of some well-known historical figures and perhaps ones you’re less familiar with, beginning with a Detroit-area innovator – Elijah McCoy, the son of former slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

Raised and educated as a free black man, McCoy saw a need for better oil lubrication for steam locomotives – so he worked to innovate and improve the existing designs for an automatic lubricator. One of his McCoy Lubricators is now on display inside Henry Ford Museum, behind the Henry’s Assembly Line activity near the Currier Shoe Shop.

From there, your presenter will lead you to other artifacts that help tell the stories of such African-American leaders as Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Lewis Latimer and, of course, George Washington Carver.

The African-American Innovators Tour is offered Wednesday through Sunday, departing from our cornerstone at the center of Henry Ford Museum at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Join us for this new tour, then tell us: What surprised you most about an African-American innovator’s history? How or where do you see their work continuing today?


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