by Kemet Mawakana (aka “The Seven-Foot Poet”)
Born in 1731 the son of a slave, Benjamin Banneker was a free African American, a self-taught clock maker, astronomer, and mathematician. He played a major role in the boundary surveys and initial layout of the nation's capital, and in the 1792 edition of his almanac was the first to call for creation of a US Department of Peace. Banneker harshly criticized Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, for rank hypocrisy in stating that liberty was the God-given right of all mankind while “...you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren, under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves."
The Seven Foot Poet shares with us the lesson of scholar-warrior Benjamin Banneker's life of struggle.