Sign apology: Cleveland inventor left off large downtown sign

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CLEVELAND, Ohio– The Host Committee for the Republican National Convention has issued an apology after a factual mix-up led it to cover up the name of a prominent Cleveland inventor on a large downtown sign.

The sign, on the side of a building at East 6th Street and Euclid Avenue, had originally read:
Garrett Morgan stopped the world in 1914 with the installation of the first electric traffic signal on Euclid Avenue.

Mr. Morgan was a prominent African-American whose contributions included inventing an early form of a gas mask (he saved lives in Cleveland with it), and patenting the first three-position traffic light in 1923.

It was Morgan who came up with the concept of a yellow light in between the red and green. Before his invention, early traffic lights went straight from green to red – leading to many accidents.

But Morgan’s patent, in 1923, came nine years after the first traffic light went up at East 105th and Euclid in 1914 that the sign references.

That light was based on a “red-green only” light – and not on Morgan’s design.

To correct the error on the sign, the Host Committee covered up Morgan’s name and replaced it with the name of the city – Cleveland.

“Accuracy is important,” says James Hackney, who has run the hot dog stand at East 9th and Euclid for 25 years.

But he doesn’t like the solution of covering up Morgan’s name.

“Change the whole damn sign,” Hackney says, “don’t take his name off it.”

In a statement, The Host Committee says Morgan’s contributions were “inadvertently blended” with the contributions of others.

It says there is not time before the GOP Convention to change the entire sign. So it plans to put Morgan’s name and contribution on a window sign on the former Cleveland Athletic Club building downtown.

Regarding the mix-up on Garrett Morgan, the Host Committee said: “In no way did we mean to diminish all that he accomplished, and we apologize for the mistake.”

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