EEI > Delivering The Future
Celebrating Black History Month
February 2019

​Each February, EEI and our member companies celebrate Black History Month. This year’s trailblazer series highlights African Americans who have helped shape and advance the electric power industry throughout their careers.

Lewis H. Latimer
Inventor and Draftsman

An inventor and draftsman, and a member of the “Edison Pioneers,” Lewis Latimer helped shape the electric power industry that we know today. Latimer expanded upon Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb by developing a cardboard envelope, creating a long-lasting and more energy-efficient lightbulb. Latimer also led the planning teams and oversaw the installation of lighting in many buildings and on major streets in several cities around the world, including New York City and London. To learn more about Lewis Latimer and the impact he had on the electric power industry, click here.
Lynn Evans
Former Tennessee Valley Authority Board Chair (2017)

In 2017, Lynn Evans was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the board chair of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Evans was approved unanimously by the TVA board and became both the first African American and first woman to serve as TVA chair. Before her time as board chair, Evans served as chair of TVA's audit committee and served as chairwoman of TVA's biggest distributor, Memphis Light, Gas & Water, from 2008 to 2009. To learn more about Lynn Evans and her career, click here.
John Lett Jr.
Gulf Power’s First African-American Lineworker

John Lett Jr.’s legacy might be that he was Gulf Power’s first African-American lineworker, but he’s remembered by his coworkers as being a hard worker—and one who never took off his hard hat. Lett worked for Gulf Power for 32 years and always was helping others in his community by taking them to church on Sundays or delivering meals to the elderly. Lett, who died in 2005, was so respected by his coworkers that as a final tribute at his funeral, Gulf Power trucks lined up with their buckets raised to create a canopy for the hearse to drive through. He is one of only three Gulf Power lineworkers who has received that honor. Learn more about John Lett’s career as a lineworker here.
Hazel O’Leary
Former U.S. Secretary of Energy

Hazel O’Leary was born on May 17, 1937, in Newport News, Virginia. After becoming the assistant county prosecutor in Essex County, New Jersey, O’Leary would serve several positions in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, including assistant administrator of the Federal Energy Commission, general counsel of the Community Services Administration, and finally as an administrator for the Economic Regulatory Commission of the newly created Department of Energy. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated O’Leary to serve as the United States Secretary of Energy. Her appointment was confirmed, making her the first woman and first African American to hold the position of Secretary of Energy. Learn more about Hazel O’Leary’s career here.