MTSD Equity Practices: The "Other" Ben


    Ben Banneker

    Black History is American History. However, for most of the past we have not done an adequate job of equal inclusion of Black, Indigenous, or People of Color in the history books or in the history lessons we’ve taught in schools.  

    Most of us can still share several facts about the life and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin, known as a true polymath for being an inventor, scientist, writer, and diplomat.  However, how many of us know of the other polymath of the time, Benjamin Banneker?

    Benjamin Banneker was born in Maryland to a free African-American woman and a former slave. As a child, Bannekar received a formal education both in a classroom and with his grandmother, an Irish-born former indentured servant, who taught him to read and write. Always intellectually curious, Banneker self-studied clock mechanics and, in his early twenties, gained local notoriety for crafting a hand-carved wooden clock that kept accurate time for decades. 

    Later in life, Banneker would develop a close relationship with George Ellicott, his Quaker neighbor who was a land surveyor and astronomer.  Their friendship bolstered Banneker’s own interest in both surveying and astronomy.  In 1789, Banneker forecast his first eclipse, and in 1790, he was invited by Elicott’s cousin, Andrew Ellicott, to assist in mapping out the geographic area that would become Washington D.C.  Eventually, Banneker compiled his wealth of knowledge into his first publication, titled Benjamin Banneker’s Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Almanack and Ephemeris, for the Year of Our Lord 1792.  The almanac, sent purposefully to then-Secretary of State Jefferson, reinvigorated debate over the problem of slavery.

    Please take the time as a family to watch and talk about this amazing revolutionary, Benjamin Banneker: