NRI is honored to join our team members as we celebrate Black History Month, focusing on the significant contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. We recognize their resilience, strength, and unwavering commitment to justice, equality, and freedom; and the systemic barriers and discrimination they have faced and continue to face. This month serves as a reminder of the many contributions African Americans have additionally made directly to transportation and logistics. The achievements made by these, and many other African Americans, have directly and significantly bettered our industry:
Andrew J. Beard
Andrew J. Beard was an inventor who transformed railroad safety. Born a slave in the 1840’s, Jefferson was emancipated at fifteen and ended up working as a carpenter, railroad worker, and businessman. He patented a mechanism that improved railroad cars by connecting railroad cars. The invention later became known as the Jenny Coupler. Prior to Andrew’s contribution this job was done manually and since has helped save thousands of railroad workers’ lives.
Mary Fields was the first Black woman to work for the United States Postal Service. Mary’s job was to not only deliver the mail but to also protect it from bandits and thieves. She was known for her fearlessness and bravery and paved the way for other minority women in the distribution field.
Garrett Morgan started his career working in sewing machine factories where he learned to repair and build machines. This sparked his creativity to perform odd handyman jobs such as improving sewing machines, and inventing apparatuses the industry hadn’t seen before. Today, he is praised for his invention of an improved traffic signal that had a warning light to inform drivers of a light change.
William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr.
William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. served as Secretary of Transportation under the Ford administration (1976-1977). During his time in the Department of Transportation, William helped establish the Materials Transportation Bureau which addressed pipeline safety and the safe shipment of hazardous materials.
It’s clear that these individuals contributed to the supply chain and transportation industry technologically and culturally. Thanks to the innovations in safety, technology and infrastructure we’re able to ship and receive products in remarkable ways. Without them, our industry wouldn’t be where it is today.
At NRI, we strive to create a culturally rich and inclusive environment. Aligned with our principles of Integrity, Excellence, and Harmony, we stand with our team and all those who share in the vision of community and diversity. Learn more about Black History Month and how it was founded here.