Born in 1731 on a farm in Baltimore, Maryland, Benjamin Banneker was an accomplished author, publisher, scientist, astronomer, mathematician, urban planner, activist, and farmer throughout his life. A free descendant of enslaved Africans, his opportunities for formal schooling were limited, but Banneker’s talents in mathematics, engineering, and the natural world flourished through his independent pursuit of knowledge and problem-solving.
Learn more about Benjamin Banneker’s exceptional life in this TED Ed by Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua.
Plus, dig deeper with TED Ed:
Visit PBS to read excerpts from his almanac, a summary of his letters to Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson’s response to him. The National Archives of the United States has a transcript of Banneker’s actual letter to Thomas Jefferson here. Here is a link to the Library of Congress that displays Jefferson’s letter in response to Banneker. Here are more resources about Banneker that include actual photos of Banneker’s Almanac.
Retrobituaries: Benjamin Banneker, the African-American Mathematician Who May Have Saved Washington, D.C. has some links to awesome resources about Banneker and discusses the impact he had on our country’s history.
For more on Banneker’s Almanac, and more on his place in the history of the United States, visit the Library of Congress.
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