African-American Achiever Benjamin Banneker

  • Cast Number: 1
  • Run-time: 6 minutes
Benjamin Banneker was an early African-American achiever who played a vital role in the early years of building the United States, and of laying the path for future generations of achievers from minority ranks.

Props: large scrapbook

Sample of script:

actor comes on stage carrying a large book, sits, leafs through the bookafter a few moments, looks up, smiles, speaks

You know what?
We have an extraordinary history .. . an amazing heritage.
Incredible tradition of fine and talented men and women.
African-American people who have gone before us, enhanced the fabric of America, not just for African Americans but for all peoples.

leafs through book, smiles

Like for instance Benjamin Banneker.
reads
Born way back on November 9th, 1731 would you believe . . . almost going on 300 years ago!
Lived to the ripe old age of 75, amazing in those days.
Old Benjamin he had good bloodlines! His grandfather, name of Banneka, a slave, he was from the Dogon tribe in Africa. His grandmother, white lady, name of Molly Wells, had come over from Europe, settled in Maryland, out west of Baltimore, close to what would become Ellicott’s Mills. Old Molly she was putting together a farm there, needed help clearing land, planting crops, she came across the slave Bannecka, bought him for to help her out.
smiles, shakes head
Seems like Molly got way more than she bargained for, ‘cause soon after that Molly freed and married Banneka. Molly surely knew she was getting much more than just a farm worker. Banneka he had loads of knowledge about things like astronomy, and Molly she got interested in astronomy too. Bannecka cleared Molly’s land, set up irrigation, and he started a really advanced system of crop rotation there on Molly’s land. . . Old Bannecka he was some farmer too!
Molly and Bannecka they had a family. Their daughter Mary, she would in time be father to Benjamin Bannecker. Benjamin never knew his grandfather Bennecka, Bennecka having passed on before Benjamin was born. But his grandmother Molly, she passed on some of Bennecka’s great knowledge about interpreting the sky to little Benjamin. And Molly taught Benjamin to read, gave him the skills to be a fine farmer.

About the time that Benjamin was a young teen he met a Quaker farmer name of Peter Heinrichs who had set up a neighborhood school near the Bannecker farm. The two became close friends and Heinrichs shared his personal library with Benjamin, that being Benjamin’s only time in a classroom. Understand Benjamin he was busy working on his parent’s farm.

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