Did You Know #BlackGirlMagic Mogul Mary Kenner Revolutionized Menstrual Pads?
For Black History month we’re highlighting changemakers in the black community who’ve revolutionized and radicalized and should be revered. One such person is Mary Kenner. Kenner, full name Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, revolutionized menstrual pads with the sanitary belt and we all should be forever grateful.
The inventor grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and constantly thought of ways to make existing products better. Zing Tsjeng, author of “Forgotten Women” book series profiled Kenner and says she wanted to invent a self-oiling door hinge at age 6, following that Kenner would “wake out of her sleep” to work on inventions. A brilliant mind, Kenner wanted to make a convertible roof that would go over the folding rumble seat of a car and a sponge tip that would go on the end of umbrellas and soak up the rainwater. Kenner came from a family of inventors and attended Howard University but dropped out over financial reasons.
Still despite not having a college degree, she did odd jobs before saving enough to file a patent for something that’s changed the way women handle their menstrual cycles. Kenner invented a belt for sanitary napkins that would help hold them in place and help prevent leaks. Her belt included an inbuilt, moisture-proof napkin pocket, a far cry from cloths that women were using during their cycles. It also allowed women to leave their homes and function in society, rather than stay home during their periods like a number of them did.
Still, despite her genius invention, Tsjeng reports that when Mary tried to meet with a company that was interested in her products they turned her away because of racial discrimination. Her patent wouldn’t be filed until 30 years later reports Mashable.
In 1982 she also patented a toilet paper holder alongside her sister Mildred Davidson. To date, Mary Kenner has more patents than any other African-American woman in history.
This woman was a genius. Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, we speak your name.
Stay tuned for more #BOSSIPBHM facts this month.