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Benjamin Banneker Benjamin Banneker was a phenomenal African-American mathematician astronomer and inventor He was born near Baltimore Md on November 9 1731 He was the son of a slave and a free black woman He grew up as a free black and while attending school he demonstrated early mathematical ability His childhood curiosity led him to explore a wide variety of other subjects In about 1771 he began to make calculations in the field of astronomy In the science of astronomy Banneker was entirely self-taught He wanted to find answers to his questions about the mysterious movements of the stars and cycles of the moon In colonial times most families owned an almanac Farmers read their almanacs so they would know when to see their soil when to plow and when they could expect rain to water their crops Some People read almanacs to find out when the sun and moon would rise and set how the weather would change from season to season and when eclipses would occur Banneker accurately predicted a solar eclipse in 1789 There were many white scientists in Bannekars day that taught themselves astronomy and published their own almanacs They didnt think it was possible for a black man-free or slave-to be smart enough to calculate the movements of the stars the way Banneker did Banneker was determined to create an almanac that would be the first of its kind Therefore he spent close to a year observing the sky every night He plotted the cycles of the moon and made careful notes He began publishing the Pennsylvania Delaware Maryland and Virginia Almanac and Ephemeris in 1791 and continued doing so until 1802 Bannekar also knew that many people would use and learn from his almanac However he wondered what good his almanac would be to black people who were enslaved and could not read He decided to write a letter to Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State because
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