The Banneker-Douglass Museum, formerly known as the Mt. Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, was originally built in 1875 and then renovated and officially completed on February 24, 1984. “The Victorian-Gothic structure was included in the Annapolis Historic District in 1971 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.” The museum just celebrated 30 years of operation back in February of this year; it is a must-see museum filled with historical and prestigious displays. In honor of Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass, the museum also exhibits the lives of other famous Maryland residents who devoted their time to the advocacy of anti-slavery and racism.
The Banneker-Douglass Museum portrays life during the harsh
times when slavery prevailed; highlighting two very famous advocates, Benjamin
Banneker and Frederick Douglass. Benjamin Banneker was born a free African
American on a tobacco farm in Baltimore County, Maryland. He is known as the
first African American of science and mathematics. Recognized as astoundingly
intelligent, growing up he mostly taught himself everything that he came to
know about science, astronomy, and mathematics; soon after, he published
several almanacs. In addition to the almanacs, Banneker is also known for being
an anti-slavery advocate. “In a bold 1791 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Banneker
compared the righteous fight for freedom by the Colonists to the plight of the
enslaved person in America. Since Jefferson’s response seemed to acknowledge
Banneker’s reasoning, he wisely published their correspondence in one of his
almanacs.” A man with many talents and a strong mind, he was a strong-willed
man seeking justice for all.
Like Banneker, Douglass was also very well known for his
support of anti-slavery. Frederick Douglass was from Talbot County, Maryland. However,
unlike Banneker, he had to escape slavery, which he did in 1838. “Frederick
Douglass was the first African American to gain international prominence as a
social crusader. With his commanding presence, Douglass was a tireless advocate
for the anti-slavery movement and also supported the woman’s suffrage campaign.”
Douglass’ passion and desire for peace and justice translated to his speaking
skills as he joined the American Anti-Slavery Society as a represented speaker.
The Banneker-Douglas Museum features many exhibits
incorporating Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass for their honorable
aspirations to end slavery. In addition to their achievements, the works of
Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Thurgood Marshall can also be found in the
museum’s displays. This historical museum represents the hardships, triumphs,
and foreshadowing that developed our nation’s history and heritage.