A Cadre of America’s Most Respected Leaders Appeal to President Obama to Sign an Executive Order Authorization of Former U.S. Senator Roland Burris’ Benjamin Banneker Memorial & Institute of Math & Science Technology Bill [S3886].

Washington, DC, April. 28, 2016 – A collective consortium of high ranking national leaders recently

Co-Signed a Letter of Request submitted by the Washington Interdependence Council, Administrators of the Benjamin Banneker Memorial initiative in the nation’s capital.  Addressed to President Barack Obama, the collaborative campaign requested the POTUS’ consideration to exercise his Executive Order privilege to enact former U.S. Senator Roland Burris’ Bill S3886.  He introduced the legislation during his term as successor to then Senator Obama in the U.S. Senate representing the State of IL. The bill stipulated that the Banneker Memorial and Institute of Math & Science Technology would be located within Banneker Overlook Park, located at the terminus of the L’Enfant Plaza corridor. 

The legislation was victim to the climate at the beginning of President Obama’s term which was arguably the most contested “lame duck” period in the recent history of Congress. On September 29, 2010, Senator Burris introduced the amended Banneker commemorative re-authorization legislation which would, if passed, have called for the commemorative initiative to be renewed as a Living Memorial to be built within Benjamin Banneker Overlook Park; a historic preservation site already named for Banneker in 1970 by the National Park Service after noted DC author and historian, Mrs. Louise Hutchinson, successfully lobbied to have the park named in honor of this great American hero.  She was successful in recruiting the late Mrs. Katharine Graham of the Washington Post to partner with her in commemorating his legacy as America’s First Black Man of Science, and A Man of Many Firsts, as WIC has elected to refer to him. The circular park is located at the terminus of L’Enfant Plaza.  

The Washington Interdependence Council is in its 20th Year of endeavoring to upgrade this site to a suitable World Class Living Memorial commemorating the many gifts Banneker bequeathed the nation, leaving behind a legacy as the engineer of the first striking clock made entirely of indigenous parts. He hand carved the clock in 1753, which struck every hour on the hour for over 50 years, along with his many others trailblazing contributions, including serving as the first African-American author of almanacs, astronomer, scientific farmer employing water irrigation and crop rotation long before these farming techniques became popular, and seminal documenter of the 17 year locust cycle.  Banneker was the first scientist since Copernicus to suggest that intelligent life existed on other planets, and the nation’s first high profile Civil Rights leader; penning his historic letter to then Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, questioning the sincerity of the Declaration of Independence as it did not apply to African-Americans and Native Americans.  He was quite outspoken on the ills of slavery although he was among the few technically “free” African-Americans during his lifetime [Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806].

Banneker was also the first to recommend a U.S. Dept. of Peace as a Cabinet post, along with his colleague, Dr. Benjamin Rush.  After his return from serving to carve out the area taken from MD and VA that was to become the nation’s capital; and as the principal Chartist assisting Geographer General Major Andrew Ellicott, who was also his neighbor and family friend, Banneker created the financial formula which is currently called the Reverse Mortgage.  He presented the proposal to the Ellicott’s, who were highly respected industrial businessmen, to enable him to free up his time to begin authoring his almanacs and delve further into his work as an astronomer which they accepted.  This real estate financial tool has become quite popular today for retirement age persons who are homeowners.

Among the leaders of organizations and constituencies representing historic preservation; civic diversity and the  STEMs who are Co-Signers of the letter submitted to President Obama for consideration are:  U.S. Senator Roland Burris [ret.] who currently serves as the Honorary National Chair of the Banneker Memorial; His Excellency Ambassador Mark Asquino [ret.]; Cong. John Conyers [MI]; Cong. Charles Rangel [NY]; Ms. Anita Bonds [DC Democratic Chair]; Mayor Johnny Ford [Tuskegee]; Dr. Matthew Scott, Pres. [Carnegie Institute of Science]; Dr. Leonard Jeffries [ret.], [CUNY Univ.]; Mr. Henry Wiencek, [Award Winning Author/Historian]; Dr. Derrick Pitts, [Chief Astronomer/Planetarium Director, Franklin Institute]; Mr. Talib Karim, Exec. Director, [STEM4US]; Ms. Bobbie Carlyle [Banneker Memorial Artist of Record]; Ms. Robin Bronk, CEO [Creative Coalition]; Ms. Rhea McCauley; Pres. [Rosa Parks Foundation]; Ms. Janine Fondon, CEO [Unity First Media]; Dr. E. Faye Williams, CEO, [National Congress of Black Women]; Mr. William Lambert, Founding CEO, [Benjamin Banneker Historic Park & Museum]; Mr. Bill Fletcher, Pres. [ret.] [TransAfrica]; Mr. Charles Hicks, CEO [DC Black History]; Mr. Justin Kwasa, Outreach Director, [Union of Concerned Scientists], et al.  

The Washington Interdependence Council serves as advocates of the importance of diversity in the social and civic construct of America, and the need for symbolic diversity within the public landscape of America.  The agency facilitated the budgeted $138 million renovation [currently underway], underwritten by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation in 2000, to make way for the Banneker Memorial.  The MOA was also signed off on by the National Park Service and DDOT, and the Washington Interdependence Council as the facilitators of the of en progress renovation of the entire half mile corridor of L’Enfant Plaza/Banneker Overlook Park --  to make way for the Banneker Memorial. As facilitators, the Washington Interdependence Council did not receive any remuneration for procuring the funding and enlisting the partnering agencies on the comprehensive, both surface and subterranean. The finished renovation, slated for circa 2018, will transform the corridor to a lush park like setting, replete with benches, trees, grass, overhead canopy, bike routes; water elements and Founding Fathers Walk, telling the story of the Eight Founding Fathers of the Nation’s Capital; Founding Father’s Visitors Center and an Underground Parking Lot slated to accommodate 1158 cars/75 tour buses.

Persons or groups interested in supporting this request should contact the Washington Interdependence Council at 202.387.3380 or at info@bannekermemorial.org.

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Copyright, Washington Interdependence Council, 2017