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8 Interesting Things You May Not Have Known About Benjamin Banneker

Celebrating the Life of Benjamin Banneker (Nov. 9, 1731 – Oct. 9, 1806)


Family Background

Benjamin Banneker (Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806) was a famous mathematician, inventor, and abolitionist in the early days of the U.S. He was born to a family of mixed race. His grandmother, Molly Wash, was an English woman and a former indentured servant. Banneker’s grandfather was a former enslaved west African royal named Banneka. The two violated Maryland law and got married despite the social taboo and stigma of interracial marriage. Banneker’s mother, Mary, was of mixed race and she went on to marry a newly free Black man named Robert, who took Banneker as his surname upon their marriage according to PBA. 



Early Education

Banneker was taught to read by his maternal grandmother, and for a very short time attended a small Quaker school. His grandmother, Molly, served as his primary educator, and taught him how to read. She also sparked his interest in math and science.

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