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Keyword: benjamin banneker

By Melanie Dance
Naturalist/Director, Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum

I remember my first day working at Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum and how much I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the heart of Benjamin Banneker, the man, the scientist and historical icon. I continue to discover more and more about his inspirational life and the amazing character of this man. I love how his story continues to affect so many people in our community.

Photo of Banneker Cabin

The park is in the heart of Oella, between Catonsville and Ellicott City, at the exact location of Banneker’s homestead.  The museum and historical park are rich in historical significance for the African American community, as Banneker is widely regarded as America’s first black man of science.  He was born a free man in Maryland on November 9, 1731, and lived on his homestead from 1737 until his death in 1806.  

Banneker was a mostly self-taught astronomer, almanac writer, mathematician, surveyor and naturalist. Some of his countless achievements included building a working clock after examining a friend’s pocket watch, assisting in the survey of a segment of our new capital, Washington D.C., and publishing an almanac for six years.  A landowner and farmer, his perseverance and use of reverse engineering principles enabled him to design and build one of the first American-made all-wooden clocks, and it is said to have kept perfect time.

Banneker had a zeal for learning and was often found caring for his orchard and honeybees, playing his violin and flute, or observing the night sky.  Banneker corresponded with Thomas Jefferson in 1791, and denounced the injustices of slavery. He also sent to Jefferson, then Secretary of State, a copy of his almanac to prove the equality of the races.

Immerse yourself in his story

I hope you will come enjoy yourself at Baltimore County’s historical gem of a park this February as we celebrate Banneker’s legacy throughout Black History Month!  We’ll kick off our celebration by honoring Oney Judge on Saturday, February 2nd.

February 2nd from 1:30-2:30 pm Black History Month Celebrates Oney Judge

Nastassia Parker-Gross, a historical re-enactor, will portray Oney Judge who was born in 1773 on George Washington’s plantation, Mount Vernon.  Upon hearing that she would be sold to Mrs. Washington’s granddaughter as a wedding gift, Judge ran away.  Come to Banneker Museum and listen to her story, documented by several 19th century newspapers.  Learn about the trials and tribulations she encountered while traveling on the path to freedom and independence.  Sponsored by the Benjamin Banneker Foundation.Free – Donations appreciated. Registration Recommended (Adults and Children Welcome) – Light Refreshments Served. Silent Auction Available

February 9th from 1-3 p.m.; African American Firsts in Baltimore County

February 16th drop in from 1-3 p.m; Meet Mary Banneker at the Banneker Homestead Cabin. All ages welcome!

February 20th and 27th 4-5:30 p.m; After-school Special:  Simple Machines and More. Participants explore the use of simple machines and solve challenges experienced during Banneker’s lifetime in colonial Maryland. Ages 6-10; $3/person

February 22nd 6:30-8 p.m.; “Cold Moon” Hike & Campfire. Come observe the night sky in the spirit of Banneker with your family or friends.  Dress for the weather and bring a mug to enjoy our warm beverages and s’mores. Ages 5 and up; $3 person/ $10 family

February 23rd 12-3 p.m; Maple Sugaring at the Banneker Homestead. Maryland is at the southern edge of the eastern U.S. for tapping maple trees.  Mr. Banneker likely tapped maple trees to harvest one of nature’s delightful and nutritious sweeteners.  Learn about the history of maple sugaring, help tap a tree, and taste the sticky treat for yourself! All ages; $3 person/ $10 family

Help us advance our mission

I have been deeply inspired, both by Banneker’s life, and by the many people that have invested so much energy to share his homestead and legacy. More recently, it was such a privilege to gather at the museum with the dedicated community of staff and volunteers as we formulated our mission and vision for the future of Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum - to engage and inspire our visitors and community by connecting them to Benjamin Banneker’s life, contributions, and his land. Join us in our mission of spreading the word about this amazing man of sciences. By 2025, we plan to:

  • Become a widely recognized resource for Banneker’s living history and its significance to our community.
  • Enhance and unify the enriching and educational experience for park and museum visitors to enjoy.
  • Serve as a hub for developing future scientists, historians, and stewards of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • Expand out partnerships to attract more resources to fulfill our mission.

Please visit our website and come join us in spotlighting this exceptional man and his legacy.

Revised October 16, 2020               
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