Black History Month: Celebrating African-American Contribution to the Trades

Black History Month is a nod to the achievement of African Americans in building the nation. The celebration highlights the significant contribution of several generations of African Americans, both past and present.

It is during Black History Month that African Americans celebrate their heritage, commemorating the valuable contribution of their fellow African Americans in society. One sector that has seen African Americans doing their share in nation-building is the trade sector.

African American tradespeople are also instrumental in working towards making the nation’s buildings and infrastructures well-maintained. From managers to skilled workers working in the background, they deserve to be praised and recognized for their efforts. Let’s discover more about diversity in the trades and the accomplishments of African Americans in the field.

Diversity in the Trades

The trade sector benefits greatly from the diverse pool of talent. Having a diverse set of employees opens up new possibilities when working on a project. This includes African Americans doing an excellent job as craftsmen and skilled workers.

African Americans form a part of diverse people working in the trades coming from different backgrounds. Regardless of one’s race, gender, or beliefs, there are equal opportunities available to work in the trade sector.

There is still more room for African Americans to enter into the field of technical trades. For example, only 8.5% of electricians are African Americans. And with a job outlook of 7% from 2021 to 2031, there is a demand for more skilled individuals to join the trades as electricians.

More businesses need skilled and licensed people to work on construction and various projects. There is no more limitation to the profile of individuals willing to do the work as long as they’re qualified. This makes working in the trades more exciting as people from diverse backgrounds are starting to fill up positions.

The Labor Movement

African Americans actively engage in the construction trades. They provide labor and expertise to work on various projects. Aside from that, African Americans were also instrumental in organizing a union to set standards in the working relationship in the trades.

The movement towards having a better working environment made technical trades a more attractive field to work in. African Americans and even other minorities now enjoy the same perks, wages, benefits, and privileges they can enjoy while working as skilled workers.

A study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed how African American union workers were able to enjoy higher wages and better benefits than their non-union peers. Black union workers were able to earn 16.4% higher than those who are not in a union. Meanwhile, there’s a 17.4% higher point for Black union workers to have employer-provided health insurance. This only goes to show how the labor movement proved to be significant for African American workers even years later.

Although there has been a decline in unionization among African American workers, being in a union provided security and a voice for African Americans to air their concerns. It provided a platform for them to have a better working environment, higher wages, and substantial benefits as well.

Prominent African Americans in the Trades

There are famous African Americans across every field who have shown exceptional work in their chosen career path. Be it from business, entertainment, sports, science, and technical trades.

In celebration of Black History Month, we can turn toward African Americans who made their mark in the trades. African Americans have contributed to developing the sector. Here, we have two exemplary figures who broke ground and made a name for themselves.

Alexander Miles

An inventor and businessman, Alexander Miles, came up with a patent to open and close elevator doors. Alexander Miles helped to improve the safety of elevator doors. His patented invention used an electric mechanism to make the opening and closing of elevator doors safer and more efficient. The 1887 patent is a testament to the ingenuity of African Americans in the trades.

Charles Vernon Stewart

In 1910, when Charles Vernon Stewart was born, electrical work was mainly a job reserved for white people. It was through the help of his stepfather Sam Taylor that he pursued learning electrical work via self-education. This self-education learning process allowed Stewart to become the first African American admitted into a trade school for electricians: the Greer College. Five years later, Stewart was the first African American to graduate from Greer College after he helped establish the Taylor Electric Company.

Alexander Miles and Charles Vernon Stewart are just two among the countless African American men and women in the trades who contributed to the sector in one way or another. From inventions to paving a career path, there are opportunities for African Americans in the trades.

No longer is the trade a sector reserved only for a single race or gender. These distinguished African Americans proved that with sheer determination and hard work, it’s possible to make a name for yourself in your chosen career.

Beyond Skilled Work

The significant contribution of African American in the trades is something noteworthy to be highlighted during Black History Month. The month-long celebration aims to put the focus back on deserving men and women of African American descent.

From the industrial revolution to the present time, African Americans have been vital in developing the methods and techniques involved in the trades. It is through the effort of African Americans working on projects and diligently improving their skills that the nation’s infrastructures are working properly. Be it electrical, construction and other fields – African Americans deserve to be recognized for their contributions.

African Americans work tirelessly to construct, maintain, repair and do other necessary groundwork to keep the nation’s buildings and infrastructures functional. They are also part of the skilled people doing their share of building the nation. And African Americans are not also contributing to the labor force. Not only are they pursuing meaningful careers in the field, but they are also moving the path toward leading contracting firms and even starting a business of their own.

African Americans are also now leading electrical companies, establishing contracting businesses, managing people, and taking in huge responsibilities in the sector. What started as limited opportunities for African Americans has now become a field of opportunity. No longer is there a need to wade through unfair labor practices and discriminatory laws on what African Americans can work on and cannot.

In the skilled trades, there are endless opportunities for African Americans to become accomplished electricians or business owners. The movement towards diversity in the labor workforce is becoming a huge advantage for entrepreneurs working in the sector.

Black History Month puts the spotlight on the contributions of African Americans in a sector that was once reserved only for whites to work on. Being in the technical trades is no longer about race or even gender. Countless African Americans employed as skilled workers have shown that their capabilities and expertise in the trades also need to be recognized. As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s give a nod to our fellow African American brothers and sisters in the trades who have done an amazing job in their profession. Black History Month serves to remind us that there is no such thing as people of color when it comes to contributing to the development of a nation – we put the same effort into building a better tomorrow.