The First African-American Intellectual – Benjamin Banneker
You know what time it is right? If you don’t know the time, look at a clock or your watch (not your mobile phone). Then consider the man who is referred to as the first African American intellectual, Mr. Benjamin Banneker.
Mr. Banneker’s story is so amazing to me because he did not have an education as such but taught himself for the most part.
Though self-taught he still participated in the surveying of the original boundaries of Washington D.C. during President George Washington’s administration. Participated is the key word. Some people give Banneker more credit than is due in this scenario, that bad game of telephone again. Still a nice little gig for a brother though, especially back then.
Though self-taught Banneker still wrote several almanacs the first of which is considered the first science book by an African-American. Then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson believed in the intellectual inferiority of slaves. I wonder if he changed his mind after he received one of the almanacs from Mr. Banneker.
Though self-taught this astronomer’s almanac did successfully predict a solar eclipse in 1798. Just thought I would throw the date in there so that you realize that he made these accomplishments to our history while slavery was still alive and strong. Yet itshould also be noted that Benjamin Banneker was born free.
Just a couple of years ago the District of Columbia Government considered putting Benjamin Banneker’s image on the reverse of a 2009 commemorative quarter. Imagine that, and the quarter is one of the most used coins.
Though self taught Banneker constructed a clock after observing the workings of a pocket watch. This was not the first clock made in America but the clock did strike accurately for several decades from when he constructed it at 22 years old til he died.
Though he was self taught he was also respected as a mathematician even though he may have short changed himself as his chronic alcoholism was said to have contributed to his death. The reckless consumption of alcohol is still a serious problem but we do not have to follow the bad examples of a good man. At the same time if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it right?
Let’s just give our Banneker best and get our face on some money. So if you can get into school then get educated but even if you can’t get into school, get educated. Because though self taught you can ….. and ….. and …………….
Also Check Out:
The Story Behind Black History Month
Phillis Wheatley – First Published African-American
Alice H. Parker – True African American Heat