Tribute – We Owe Benjamin Banneker (American)

Ty Gray-El

On this day (Feb.7) in 1791 this brother, Benjamin Banneker began to lay out Washington DC. Most folk don’t know that a black man is principally responsible for the mapping and topography of this Nation’s Capitol. They don’t have subway stations and plazas named for him. In fact, they erroneously give th

e credit to Pierre L’Enfant, when in fact there would be no District of Columbia if not for the mathematical and astronomical genius of Benjamin Banneker, who mapped out all its streets, its parks, its avenues and its mall. In fact…

We Owe Benjamin Banneker

Genius Benjamin Banneker

It is my humbled honor
To pay tribute to a man
Whom without his craft and genius
We could not enjoy this land

I honor Benjamin Banneker

For the services he rendered
To the District of Columbia
He brought prominence and splendor

And if we made a list
Of the many tools he gave us

We’d see America owes him
For all the labor he saved us

He saved us with his Almanacs

Almanac by Benjamin Banneker

So the farmers owe him a debt
He helped us to understand
The 17-year locust threat

He taught us crop rotation
Which prevented extra toil Explained water irrigation
And how to replenish the soil

His Arithmetical skills And command of astronomy
Assured America’s good fortune
It strengthened its economy

And two whole centuries before Einstein
Theorized on relativity
Mr. Banneker declared it
And proved our connectivity

First of it’s kind clock in America by Benjamin Banneker

He handcrafted a clock

In seventeen fifty-three
That for more than 50 years
Measured time accurately

And he was the first known Black Man
To publicly protest slavery
His indictment letter to Jefferson
Proved his brilliance and his bravery

Truth is that most who know
Have always thought it a pity
That our Nation’s Capitol
Is not named Banneker City


Because entirely from memory

Layout of Washington DC

Within two months of being called
He mapped out all its streets
Its parks, its avenues, its mall

And remember Pierre L’Enfant
Was only the sketch artist
It was Benjamin Banneker
Who was the actual Chartist

So it is only befitting
That he be immortalized
With his countenance set in stone
And his work sensationalized

For if not for Benjamin Banneker There’s no telling where we’d be

And remember he was the Black man
That saved Washington, DC


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