Bessie J. Blount
African-American Inventor & Forensic Scientist
Bessie Blount Griffin was born on November 24, 1914 in Hickory, VA, present day Chesapeake, VA. She studied at both Panzar College of Physical Education and at Union Junior College in New Jersey. Prior to being deployed as a nurse during World War II, she studied physical therapy in Chicago. During her childhood, her stubborn streak showed when at 7 she was reprimanded for writing with her left hand; she decided to learn to write with her mouth and toes instead of writing with her right hand. In 1951, she invented a self feeding device that a person with an amputation could use independently. The feeding device was designed to deliver one mouthful of food at a time, controlled by biting down on the tube. She then created a disposable emesis basin. Her invention were rejected by the American Veteran's Administration. After this rejection she donated her inventions to the French Government, where her inventions were accepted and are still currently being used. In 1969, Blount studied to become a forensic scientist and went into law enforcement. She worked in Vineland, New Jersey and both Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. In her capacity as a forensic scientist, she used her training to examine the authenticity of African American slave “papers” and pre-civil war documents. By 1972, she had advanced to become the Chief Document Examiner of those laboratories. In 1977, Blount became the first Black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard, because J. Edgar Hoover turned down her application to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. At 83, she had continued to run her own business. She currently serves as a consultant in “special investigations” for many law enforcement agencies, while being a member of the South Jersey chapter. According to her son, Bessie Blount still packs up her models and speaks to classes. Blount would like to but some land in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and build a...
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