Welcome to the Whyte House Family Spoken Nonfiction Books podcast: Black History Month edition episode #54. Today we are celebrating the life of Benjamin Banneker from the book “100 Most Influential Black Christians in History” compiled and edited by the editors of BCNN1.
Astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, almanac author and farmer.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
“Presumption should never make us neglect that which appears easy to us, nor despair make us lose courage at the sight of difficulties.”
On November 9, 1731, a boy was born on a farm near Baltimore, along the Patapsco river. The child had a disadvantage: he was born black in a society that held black slaves. However, because his mother was free, he also was free: slave mother, slave child; free mother, free child. He was named Benjamin. Benjamin Bannaky.
His mother, Molly, taught Benjamin and his brothers and sisters to read, using the Bible as a textbook. Benjamin learned to play the flute and violin. When a Quaker school opened nearby, he attended. The schoolmaster changed the boy’s last name from Bannaky to Banneker.
Benjamin proved to be a polymath. A polymath is a person who excels in many fields of endeavor. Taking apart a watch, he studied its workings and carved a wooden clock based on the principles he learned. It kept good time for forty years. Joseph Ellicott, an industrialist, asked Benjamin to build him a similar clock, which he did. The Ellicott brothers became Benjamin’s close friends and loaned him books from which he taught himself astronomy and mathematics. He learned so well that he predicted an eclipse correctly when prominent astronomers and mathematicians got it wrong. In time, Benjamin became famous for the almanacs he issued between 1792 and 1802.
But Benjamin may be most famous for a contribution he made to the nation when he was sixty. He was helping the Ellicott brothers lay out Washington, D. C. as the nation’s capital. The architect in charge of the city plans was Pierre L’Enfant. Because of his bad-temper, L’Enfant was dismissed from the post. He took his plans with him. Benjamin recreated them from memory.
Thomas Jefferson considered black people mentally inferior. To prove him wrong, Benjamin sent him a copy of his almanac. In the accompanying letter, he argued against slavery on the basis of his Christian beliefs: “…it is the indispensable duty of those, who maintain for themselves the rights of human nature, and who possess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their power and influence to the relief of every part of the human race, from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under…”
“…and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, that I now confess to you, that I am not under that state of tyrannical thraldom [bondage], and inhuman captivity, to which too many of my brethren are doomed, but that I have abundantly tasted of the fruition of those blessings, which proceed from that free and unequalled liberty with which you are favored; and which, I hope, you will willingly allow you have mercifully received, from the immediate hand of that Being, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect Gift.”
Jefferson replied politely, but did nothing to end the slave system.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Whyte House Family nonfiction books. You may purchase a copy of this book and any other Christian nonfiction books read on this podcast from Amazon.com.
Now, dear listener, please know that God—the divine Author of all things—wants to write a great story with your life as well. But first you must give Him the pen by trusting Him with the life He gave you and surrendering your heart to Jesus Christ as Savior. Here is how:
- Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
- Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
- Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
- Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
- Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
- With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
May God bless you until next time.