One of the most popular children’s toys in the world for the past twenty years has been the Super Soaker water gun, but tragically very few people know that it was an African American who invented it: Lonnie Johnson, one of the most brilliant scientists and prolific inventors of the modern era.

For a few years, it was the top-selling toy in America and generated annual sales of over $200 million. For even casual lovers of history, the fact that something of vast importance and/or popularity was invented by an African American no longer comes as a surprise anymore. Black brilliance and innovation has permeated the American cultural landscape almost from the inception of this nation, and most certainly since the obliteration of the institution of slavery. But when monumental stories such as Johnson’s are not told, they tend to fade into history and dissipate like the morning mist.

It’s time to tell Johnson’s astounding story once more. Click below to find to discover the depths of this cultural gem.

terry shropshire

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