Levi Strauss became famous during the CA Gold Rush. Strauss, born in Germany in 1829, came to America in 1847 to escape religious discrimination (family was Jewish) & to work for his brothers' dry goods business in NYC. In 1853, he went west & started his own clothing co. which began making heavy-duty work pants in the 1870s. (First called “waist overalls,” they are now known as blue jeans.) As his business thrived, Strauss supported many religious & social causes.
African-American inventor Elijah the Real McCoy was born in Canada on May 2, 1844, the son of escaped slaves. During his life time McCoy received 57 patents for devices which improved versions of his automatic lubrication process. The high quality of McCoy's inventions gained such notoriety that the phrase "the Real McCoy" was coined to distinguish his inventions from cheap imitations.
George Washington Carver changed lunchtime sandwiches forever when he invented peanut butter. Born a slave, Carver didn’t attend college until he was 30 years old, but he went on to create 400 new uses for peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans