The topic of conversation that interested me most in class this week was in relation to the need of all students to feel that their culture has made an important contributions to American society. Hearing this statement made in class made me realize that I know very little about the contributions of other cultures to our society. The rest of this post is dedicated to the research I have conducted about this topic
Edible plants domesticated by Indians have become major staples in the diets of peoples all around the world. Such foods include corn (maize), manioc, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, squashes and pumpkins, tomatoes, papayas, avocados, pineapples, guavas, chili peppers, chocolate (cacao), and many species of beans.
Indians were the first to raise turkeys, llamas, guinea pigs, and honeybees for food.
Other plants of great importance developed by Indians include cotton, rubber, and tobacco.
The Maya of Mexico appear to have been the first to use the zero in mathematics. Scholars believe that Asians traveled across the Pacific Ocean and learned about the zero from the Maya.
Indian governments in eastern North America, particularly the League of the Iroquois, served as models of federated representative democracy to the Europeans and the American colonists. The United States government is based on such a system, whereby power is distributed between a central authority (the federal government) and smaller political units (the states)
African – Americans
Early elevators were different from the mostly automated devices we’re familiar with today. Passengers had to manually open and close the elevator doors, as well as the door leading to the elevator shaft. If anyone forgot to close the shaft door, other passengers could fall down the shaft when expecting to step into the elevator. Alexander Miles invented a mechanism that triggered the shaft doors to open and close along with the elevator doors, making the ride safer.
Lewis Latimer worked with the famous inventor Hiram Maxim at the U.S. Electric Lighting Company. While working there in 1881, Latimer patented a carbon filament for the incandescent lightbulb. The invention helped make electric lighting practical and affordable for the average household.
In 1883, Jan Ernst Matzeliger successfully invented what many before him had attempted: an automated shoemaking machine that quickly attached the top of the shoe to the sole. This process is called “lasting”. Matzeliger’s machine could produce more than 10 times what human hands could create in a day. This invention revolutionized the shoemaking industry and made shoes affordable to the average person.
During the 1890s, Walker suffered hair loss. This was a common problem at the time. Because indoor plumbing was less common, people washed their hair infrequently. This left their scalps vulnerable to bacteria and lice. Walker experimented with homemade treatments and eventually created a formula that she called “Madame C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower.” After changing her name to the more recognizable “Madame C.J. Walker,” she traveled around the country promoting her hair care tips and products to African American women. Her knack for self-promotion made her one of the most famous African Americans of her time and a very successful businesswoman who owned multiple homes. She is one of America’s first self-made female millionaires.
In the late 1930s, Dr. Charles Richard Drew invented a way to process and preserve blood plasma, allowing it to be stored and shipped for blood transfusions. Until then, blood was perishable and not fit for use after about a week. Drew’s invention vastly improved the efficiency of blood banks
Before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Mendez v. Westminster. In the landmark case, a judge decided in 1946 that California could not segregate its school system based on national origin or language ability.
Somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 Latinos fought the Axis powers in World War II. Because military records didn’t track ethnicity and generally counted Latinos as white, researchers have trouble pinpointing the figure.
Two Muslim women, Fatima and Miriam al-Firhi, created the world’s first university, Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, in 859 AD. For several years, students were schooled here in a plethora of secular and religious subjects. At the end of their education, teachers evaluated students and awarded degrees based on satisfactory performances. The concept of awarding degrees would spread from Fez to Andalucía, Spain, and later to the Universities of Bologna in Italy and Oxford in England, among other places of learning.
One of the greatest Muslim contributions to civilization began in the 8th century when Muslim scholars inherited volumes of Greek philosophy. The wisdom in ancient Greece texts, which had been lost to Europeans, was translated from Latin to Arabic by Muslim scholars, thus creating one of the greatest transmissions of knowledge in world history. Muslims scholars would eventually bring the ideas of great ancient Greek minds such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato into Europe, where their philosophy was translated into other European languages.
Ibn Khaldun is another one of the most important Muslim thinkers in history. Recognized as one of the greatest historians ever and the founder of sociological sciences in the 14th and 15th centuries, Khaldun created one of the earliest nonreligious philosophies in history in his work, the Muqaddimah. He also paved the way for our expectations of modern-day Presidents and Prime Ministers by creating a framework for evaluating “good rulers,” stating “the sovereign exists for the good of the people… The necessity of a Ruler arises from the fact that human beings have to live together and unless there is someone to maintain order, society would break to pieces.
In 872 in Cairo, Egypt, the Ahmad ibn Tulun hospital was created and equipped with an elaborate institution and a range of functions. Like other Islamic hospitals that soon followed, Tulun was a secular institution open to men and women, adults and children, the rich and poor, as well as Muslims and non-Muslims. Tulun is also the earliest hospital to give care to the mentally ill. One hundred years after the founding of Tulun, a surgeon named Al-Zahrawi, often called the “father of surgery,” wrote an illustrated encyclopedia that would ultimately be used as a guide to European surgeons for the next five hundred years. Al-Zarawhi’s surgical instruments, such as scalpels, bone saws, and forceps are still used by modern surgeons. Al-Zahrawi is also reportedly the first surgeon to perform a caesarean operation.
Protecting and cleansing the body has always been a priority for Muslims. Perhaps then it is no surprised that Muslim scientists combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil to create a recipe for soap, which is still used today. Shampoo was also introduced to England on the Brighton seafront in 1759 at Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths.