Imagine being Black in the 1700s and becoming a self-taught surveyor who played a pivotal role in planning the layout of our nation’s capital. In 1753, at the age of 22, Banneker constructed a striking wooden clock without having ever seen a clock before (although he had examined a pocket watch). He painstakingly carved the toothed wheels and gears of the clock out of seasoned wood. The clock operated successfully until the time of his death.
In 1791 alone, Benjamin Banneker completed the survey of Washington, DC, published his first almanac and confronted one of the nation’s founders, Thomas Jefferson, and his doctrine of Black inferiority.
A free Black man who owned a farm near Baltimore, Benjamin Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy and mathematics. He was later called upon to assist in surveying the territory for the construction of the nation's capital. As a self-empowered person, he also became an active writer of almanacs and exchanged letters with Thomas Jefferson, politely challenging him to do what he could to ensure racial equality.
Banneker's accomplishments extended into other realms as well, including civil rights. In 1791, Jefferson was Secretary of State and Banneker, considered the respected Virginian, though a slaveholder, to also be open to view African Americans as human sentients. Thus, he wrote Jefferson a letter hoping that he would “readily embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevail with respect to us." To further support his point, Banneker included a handwritten manuscript of an almanac for 1792, containing his astronomical calculations.
My guest on this program, Charles A. Cerami, former editor of the Kiplinger Washington Publications and author of Benjamin Banneker, explains that there was much more to Banneker than what is written in the history books.
FEATURED THIS WEEK ON TonyBrownsJournal.com
TBJ #2515 Benjamin Banneker: Truth to Power. Imagine being Black in the 1700s and becoming a self-taught surveyor who played a pivotal role in planning the layout of our nation’s capital and inventing a clock in 1753. In 1791 alone, Benjamin Banneker completed the survey of Washington, DC, published his first almanac, and confronted one of the nation’s founders, Thomas Jefferson, and his doctrine of Black inferiority.
HISTORICALLY, TONY BROWN IS also …
- Coordinator of the “Walk To Freedom with Martin Luther King, Jr.” in Detroit (1963), according to the July 29, 1963 edition of Business Week magazine, “the largest civil rights march in history.”
- WINNER of the prestigious Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
- Dean Emeritus and Professor, Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, Hampton University
- First and Founding Dean and Professor, School of Communications, Howard University
- Founder, BLACK COLLEGE DAY, 1980
- 2015-2016 National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame Inductee
- Black Emmy Nominee – 1989 Special Recognition Award Winner
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Honorary Degree – American University, Paris, France
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA
- Talker’s, Radio Trade Magazine: Selected as “One Of The 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts In America”
- “Tony Brown Chicago,” WLS-AM Radio (Chicago)
- “Tony Brown,” WLIB-AM Radio (New York) “Tony Brown at Daybreak,” WRC-TV (Washington, DC)
- “Tony Brown’s Journal”/“Black Journal” (TV series: 1968-2008): “The Most Complete and Thoughtful Record of African-American Opinion.”
- U. S. Army 272 field artillery (s-1 Intelligence) battalion and cadre (1953-1955). Neu-Ülm, GERMANY. Honorable discharge.
- Great Events In African-American History
- Tony Brown Donates $100,000 to Hampton University Scholarship Fund and sows the seeds of success for future journalists www.TonyBrownsJournal.com/blog/Tony-Brown-Donates-100k
- Tony Brown with Hampton University Journalism Students Make History At The New York Times Harvard, Columbia, Syracuse Place Second In Competition www.TonyBrownsJournal.com/blog/Tony-Brown-With-HU-Makes-history
HAS THE BLACK LEADERSHIP BETRAYED ITS OWN COMMUNITY?
WE STOOD WITH MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
“I was there 50 years ago, in 1963, one of the last two Directors left standing, where 500,000 marchers once stood.” --Tony Brown
“LARGEST CIVIL RIGHTS MARCH IN HISTORY”
The following week, in its July 29, 1963 edition, Business Week magazine called the Detroit event the “largest civil rights march in history.” Subsequently, an official police source, in an affidavit, confirmed an attendance of “no fewer than 250,000 and as many as 500,000 people.” Black people came mostly from throughout the nearby Midwest region.
More official confirmation has been forthcoming since then. Nearly 40 years later, in 2003, The Wall Street Journal would report on page one that the famed King Dream Speech may have had its roots -- not at the March on Washington (which drew 250,000), on August 28, 1963, but elsewhere, perhaps 66 days before in Detroit, Michigan where the attendance may have reached, according to an official police affidavit, 500,000 people.
Although I had no official role in the Washington March, I did witness it as a Detroit correspondent for the national Pittsburgh Courier newspaper chain of African-American local publications throughout the United States, an affiliate of the Black Press, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial within a few feet of Dr. King and I was included in Life magazine’s limited photo coverage of this historic event.
All of this in only 66 days! My head was spinning with excitement and wonderment. It seemed that my Detroit decision to choose activism as a way of life had become my destiny.
2013 – 50th Anniversary “Walk to Freedom March” – Detroit, MI
Tony Brown (center) Grand Marshal of the 2nd and final Detroit March on June 22, 2013, drew 200,000, with his grandson Remy Harris (left) and Jesse Jackson (right).
TONY BROWN OFFERS EDUCATORS, STUDENTS, HOMESCHOOLERS AND PARENTS ACCESS TO A NEW VISUAL STREAMING LEARNING TOOL FOR BLACK HISTORY AND CULTURE
Tony Brown’s Journal, “the most complete and thoughtful record of African-American opinion,” is in the process of offering one of the most cutting-edge educational tools for streaming to educators, homeschoolers, students and parents. The entire digitally re-mastered TonyBrownsJournal.com collection of nearly 1,000 historical, health and public affairs video and film content that was produced by award-winning journalist Tony Brown on national television for over 40 years (1968-2008) is now being offered in this rare cutting-edge educationally purposeful opportunity for as little as $9.99 per year.
Free streamed copy of “THE WHITE GIRL" movie with each annual subscription is a streamed copy of “The White Girl,” a full-length anti-drug feature movie directed by Tony Brown that was released via commercial syndication in movie theaters in 1995 with a PG-13 rating. The opening inaugural debut of “The White Girl” at the Liberty Theatre in Hamilton, Bermuda (Bahamas) broke the house box-office gross record, according to Hollywood Reporter, a trade magazine.
BLACK COLLEGE DAY BILL- White House cabinet members and advocates of equal education look on as President Reagan signs Executive Order 12320, just one year after the first historic Black College Day rally in Washington, DC, that increased the amount of federal funds to these institutions by $9.6 million. From left to right are: Education Secretary Terrell Bell, Tony Brown, Founder and Chief Coordinator of Black College Day, Thelma Duggan, Coordinator of Minority Affairs at the Department of Transportation; and Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole.
LEADERS OF THE BLACK COLLEGE DAY MARCH IN 1980; THE ULTIMATE UNITY RALLY. Supporters of Black colleges from around the country demonstrated to save Black colleges from new federal and state desegregation plans that threatened their historic role. This 1983 Black College Day massive march and rally in Savannah, Georgia, protested the merger plans of two Black colleges in Georgia.