Washington Interdependence Council Joins Friends of Banneker Historical Park & Museum to Celebrate Ben’s Puzzles: A Puzzling Birthday Soiree.

Washington, DC, October 3, 2005 – Colonial American hero, Benjamin Banneker [1731-1805] has been deferred to by the Washington Interdependence Council (WIC), the Congressionally authorized [P.L. 105-355] administrators of the Banneker Memorial, as A Man of Many Firsts; and celebrated that deference with GSA administrator, Mr. Stephen Perry, and the Benjamin Banneker chapter of Blacks in Government [BIG] last year on the day of his birthday, November 9. This year WIC teams up with the Friends of Banneker Historical Park & Museum, located in Catonsville, MD, Banneker’s former homestead, now owned by the Baltimore County Park Service, to commemorate his 274th birthday on Saturday, November 5th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is located at 300 Oella Ave., Catonsville, MD 21228. The phone number is 410/887-1081. Admission is free and open to the public.


Birthday festivities include various interesting activities for all ages, including a treasure hunt, the celebration of the grand opening of the new Banneka Activity Center with Mr. Banneker himself, as portrayed by actor, Bob Smith. Molly Welsch, Banneker’s maternal Grandmother, arrived in America as an indentured servant. After gaining her freedom, she married Banneker’s Grandfather, Banneka, the son of an African King. They and their offspring became free citizens of America. Their descendants included Banneker’s Mother, Mary. She married Robert, who bequeathed their 100+ acre estate to Benjamin, guaranteeing his freedom as well. The entire family adopted the name of Banneker’s Grandfather, Banneka, later anglicized to Banneker.


Peggy Seats, Founder/CEO of the Washington Interdependence Council, will present a program in the Banneka Activity Center entitled Ben’s Puzzles. She will share with the audience some of the entertaining, and even the more intellectually challenging, of the puzzles Banneker was well-known for creating and sharing with the locals in his day. Puzzles, brainteasers, limericks and riddles were a popular form of entertainment among the social elite during colonial and pre-colonial times. Some of Banneker’s famous mathematical puzzles remain unsolved to this day.


The beautiful grounds of the Friends of Banneker Historical Park & Museum is aesthetically landscaped and includes the Main Museum, the new Bannaka Activity Center, and a lovely wood planked path, lain by AmeriCorp Youths, which paves through a wooded area with stately trees, bike path, and a flowing water stream that leads into Ellicott City, the former homestead of Banneker’s neighbors, the Ellicott’s. In 1791, Major Andrew Ellicott, former Geographer General of the United States, was appointed by President George Washington to survey the nation’s capitol. At the referral of his cousin, and Banneker’s friend, George Ellicott, Banneker was retained as his assistant in this historic endeavor, and further served to finalize the design of the nation’s capitol, also producing the document commonly referred to as the L’Enfant Plan.


WIC, the non-profit civic agency authorized by Congress [P.L. 105355] to establish a world class memorial to Benjamin Banneker, is seeking to endow the Chair, under Dr. Phillip Emeagwali's leadership, at $2.5 million or more to promote the pursuit of math, science, engineering, and physics among the disenfranchised populace as part and parcel of its educational mission. Dr. Emeagwali is a renowned mathematician who is attributed with the discovery of the Internet, and is deferred to as "The Father of the Internet." His mathematic equation utilizing 65,000 computer chips to process at a rate of 3.1 billion rotations per second spawn the advent of the Internet as we know it today. He is also considered a scientific pioneer in oil extraction technology.The Benjamin Banneker Memorial was approved for placement along the L’Enfant Plaza Promenade by the National Capital Memorial Commission in 1999. WIC subsequently signed off on a $12 million Phase I grant appropriation from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, under the auspices of its TEA21 program, to renovate the half mile concourse as a new and inviting historic preservation gateway to the waterfront from the Mall , located at its entrance. For further information on the Benjamin Banneker Institute of Math & Science Chair, contact the Washington Interdependence Council at 202.387.3380 and/or go to WIC's website at www.bannekermemorial.org.

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