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Remembering Elijah McCoy in Celebration of Black History Month

Bryan University
February 8, 2021

Authored by: Chestiny Fair, MS

This week marks the second week of Black History month! When celebrating Black History Month, the Bryan University IDEA committee (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness committee) wants to bring recognition to some of the individuals that have helped shape history. So this week we present to you, Elijah McCoy.

Have you heard of Elijah McCoy?

Elijah McCoy was an African American inventor and engineer. He had 57 patents for inventions that he created over his 86 years. Elijah worked for the railway, working to improve steam engine technology. His most famous invention was the “automobile lubricator” for engines. These cups allowed oil to be fed to the engine a little at a time. The oil cups are still used today and are a vital part of the design of every engine. At the time of the invention other competitors didn’t want to give him the credit he deserved because he was an African American inventor who was responsible for creating this necessity. However, those made by competitors were not as effective as the original, so people would start to ask if they were getting the “Real McCoy” when purchasing automobiles. After many years, appreciation triumphed over racism and today you can find the saying “Real McCoy” in the Webster dictionary which is defined as:

  • Something or someone that is real or genuine.
  • Something or someone that is neither an imitation nor a substitute.

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