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MBHB Celebrates Black History Month: Miriam E. Benjamin

February 25, 2021

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP is proud to celebrate Black History Month in recognition of it as an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans in spotlighting their critical role in U.S. history. In this regard, we are highlighting noteworthy African American inventors whose creations changed the world.

Miriam E. Benjamin, the second African American woman to receive a patent, obtained a patent for her invention, the Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels. As the name suggests, the chair worked when the seated individual pressed a small button on the back of the chair which sent a signal to a waiting attendant, along with an illuminating light to alert the attendant to see which guest needed help. Based on this success, it was eventually adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, and served as a precursor to the signaling system used by airlines for their seated passengers to request assistance from flight attendants.