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Benjamin Banneker: An Important Black American

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• Part 2: Famous writer, designer

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• Benjamin Banneker
A Puzzle by Banneker

Part 1: Early Success

February is Black History Month, and Benjamin Banneker is one of this country's most important Black Americans. His accomplishments in writing, science, and architecture are unparalleled. His story is also very inspirational.

He was born a free man in 1731. At that time, it was rare for a Black man to be born free. But his mother was a free woman, and so Benjamin was born free.

He was a very curious child. He liked numbers, and he liked to know how things worked. One of his first significant projects was building his own clock. One day, a friend showed him a pocket watch. Benjamin was so fascinated that he decided to make his own. He worked for two years and built a clock totally out of wood. Even the gears were wood! The clock was so accurate that it kept time for more than 40 years! This was far longer than most clocks of that time.

Banneker was also very good at astronomy. He loved looking at the stars and figuring out the behavior of the planets and moons. He was also interested in eclipses. An eclipse is when the Sun is partially covered by the Moon. These can be very difficult to predict. But Banneker did the math and predicted an eclipse for April 14, 1789. Other famous scientists of the day (all of them white) didn't believe Banneker's prediction. They had their own dates, based on their own calculations. But when the Sun was partially covered up on April 14, 1789, Benjamin Banneker became famous.

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