ABC7 Unite: 2 Black inventors changed the way we clean clothes and our streets

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Two hundred years ago next month, the United States granted a patent to the first African American. He was a New Yorker who solved a pesky problem. How can you clean clothing that can't be washed?

Thomas Jennings had the answer. He called it "dry-scouring." It paved the way for what we call dry cleaning. It's now a global industry.

Jennings was working as a tailor in New York City when he invented a unique method of removing dirt and grease from clothing that left the items looking good as new.

New Yorkers know alternate side parking days make way for street cleaning.

But, did you know the street sweeper was invented by an African American man in Newark?

Charles B. Brooks came up with the first self-propelled street sweeper in 1896.

It is technology we still use 125 years later.

They are two Tri-State trailblazers who changed the way we clean our clothing and our streets.

RELATED: Dr. Jewel Plummer-Cobb blazed a path for Black women in higher education

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