When Benjamin Banneker died on this date 213 years ago, the first photograph was still 20 years away from being taken. There are no known paintings or drawings of Benjamin Banneker, and since all of his worldly possessions were destroyed in a fire on the day of his funeral, nobody knows if Banneker ever even owned a portrait or drawing of himself. It is widely assumed by many that that the image on Banneker's almanac in 1795 was of Benjamin Banneker himself but that has never been confirmed. As a result, all of the images available today of Banneker are purely speculation and nobody knows for certain what the man actually looked like. Also, nobody seems to have an answer as to why his name was spelled Bannaker on this 1795 almanac but Banneker on other previous years and everywhere else. So many mysteries and so much remains unknown about the life of Banneker.
What we do know about Benjamin Banneker is amazing though and his story is truly inspirational. Banneker's life was a never ending quest for knowledge right up until the time of his death. The series of yearly almanacs he authored and was able to have published late in his life are some of the only remaining pieces of his work. His almanacs were an amazing achievement though, especially when you consider the time period he lived in and the challenges he faced. Not only was he America's first African American Scientist and Inventor, he was also the first to publish a scientific journal and by publishing the letters he wrote to Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson's response in his best selling almanac he was a forefather in the movement for civil rights and racial equality. Benjamin Banneker openly dreamed of a country with no slavery well before that dream would ever become a reality. Much can be learned from the life of Banneker but yet so much is still left to be learned about the life of Banneker.