Black History Month
Bessie Blount Griffin (1914-2009)
Bessie Blount was born in Hickory, Virginia in 1914. She moved from Virginia to New Jersey where she studied to be a physical therapist at the Panzar College of Physical Education and at Union Junior College and then furthered her training as a physical therapist in Chicago.
After graduating, she began working with injured World War II amputees. The war had left many people severely disabled and her work was in great demand. It was while working with amputees that she began to develop devices that would assist her patients in regaining their independence. By 1951, Blount was living in Newark, N.J., and teaching physical therapy at the Bronx Hospital in New York.
While her inventions had the potential to revolutionize the lives of many people, getting them patented and marketed for use by patients was not easy in the United States. Frustrated by the lack of interest by the American Veteran’s Administration, Blount signed the rights to her other inventions over to the French government with the statement that she had proven “that a Black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind.”
Blount also appeared on the Philadelphia television show “The Big Idea” in 1953, Becoming the first Black and the first woman to be given such recognition.
“A black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind.”