Memorial Lessons 101

 

Doesn't the government pay for memorials?

 

How long does it take to complete the commemorative process?

 

How many monuments are within the nation's capitol?

 

What can I do to support the Banneker Memorial?

 

Are there other memorials to African-Americans approved for

placement within the monumental core of the nation's capitol?

 

What is the fundraising goal for the Banneker Memorial?

 

What is the projected completion date for the unveiling the Banneker Memorial?

 

Are there other poems written in honor of Banneker?

 

 

Doesn't the government pay for memorials?

 

No. U.S. Memorials are either gifted by other governments to America and/or established by non-profit agencies that are authorized by Congress to raise the funds needed to underwrite the cost of monumental undertakings.

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How long does it take to complete the commemorative process?

 

On average, the process for establishing a monument in the nation's capitol, with rare exception, takes 20-40 years or more.

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How many monuments are within the nation's capitol?

 

There are over 150 memorials within the nation's capitol. However, there are no completed memorials to African-Americans within the monumental core of the nation's capitol commemorating people of African-American descent.

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What can I do to support the Banneker Memorial?

 

You can form local chapters of the Banneker Ambassador Society (BAS), a national support group established to help educate the public about the legacy of Banneker as a colonial American hero, and to help mobilize the national community in support of the memorial. There is a need to emphasize the need for the memorial. You can also donate to the fund for its construction. The website offers an easy and convenient way to contribute to this importance endeavor.

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Are there other memorials to African-Americans approved for placement within the monumental core of the nation's capitol?

 

Yes. The first authorized memorial was sanctioned in 1986. Patriot's Memorial [H.R. 452]. commemorating Crispus Attucks and the 5000+ African-American soldiers who fought and died in the Revolutionary War. This memorial was approved for siting near the Reflecting Pool on the Mall.

The second was Dr. Martin Luther King [P.L. 105-201], celebrating the life and contributions of America's most renowned Civil Rights leader. It is approved to be sited along the Tidal Basin near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

The Benjamin Banneker Memorial became the third heroic memorial to an African-American approved for placement within the monumental core of the nation's capitol [P.L. 105-355]. It was Congressionally authorized in 1998, and received site approval along L'Enfant Plaza in 1999 by the National Capital Memorial Commission. This site is ranked the number one yet undeveloped location in the nation's capitol. It is perfectly sandwiched between Smithsonian Castle and the southwest waterfront, currently undergoing a massive renovation. Once all renovations are complete, including L'Enfant Plaza as the approved site forthe Banneker Memorial, this area will become a world class waterfront and the cultural center of the nation's capitol, now being deferred to as the global capitol.

In December, 2003 the National Museum of African-American History and Culture [P.L. 108-184] became the fourth and last commemorative authorization honoring the legacy of African-Americans for placement within the monumental core of the nation's capitol in the history of America. It has taken over 150 years to finally get this museum approved; and Congressman John Lewis lobbied over twelve years to secure its congressional authorization. It is projected that it will take 15-20 years to complete this historic museum.

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What is the fundraising goal for the Banneker Memorial?

 

The design of the memorial calls for a heroic sized statue (14 foot or taller) on a pedestal base, benches, trees, lush landscaping, 30-40 foot tower clock, historic exhibits, astronomical art and a Founding Architects Visitor's Center. As a result of securing a TEA21 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, underwriting the cost of renovating the L'Enfant Plaza corridor in 2000, the costs of establishing this world class memorial is defrayed substantially. As a result of this partnership, the projected cost of the Banneker Memorial is $33 million. This is a very moderate cost for a world class memorial within the monumental core versus comparable memorials. Because of this partnership, the cost is considerably reduced by virtue of the $50+ million TEA21 grant facilitated by the Washington Interdependence Council (WIC) for the half mile premium expanse which serves as a gateway between the Mall and the waterfront. This leaves only the statute, tower clock, visitor's center, exhibits and other design accoutrements to be funded by WIC. It is important to note that this location is the number one ranked site in the nation.

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What is the projected completion date for the unveiling the Banneker Memorial?

 

Although it is difficult to project a timeline for a memorial, the goal for the completion of the Banneker Memorial is 2010.

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Are there other poems written in honor of Banneker?

 

Yes. Another known Ode to Banneker was written by an unidentified author who signed the poem "G.H." Though believed to be written by Gerald Hopkins, a Quaker Minister and cousin to Susanna Hopkins Mason, there is no documented athentication of him penning the poem. It was among the many accolades and testaments appearing in the 1795 almanac by Banneker serving as verifications that the almanac was produced solely by Banneker rather than by others. The words of the poem were in William Young's edition of Banneker's almanac, and extolled the valuable achievements of Banneker as being comparable to Sir Isaac Newton's and read as follows:

 

But what are colours? do complexions change
The human intellects? Ah! doctrine strange!
Banneker is an argument 'gainst those
Whose prejudices thus themselves expose.
Banneker shews in demonstrative light,
Tho' black his skin, his talents yet are bright,
He e'en may dare in competition place
His talents rare, with those who thus disgrace
His sable brethren; yea, and clearly shew
Talents to such, perhaps superior too.
Great Genius? tho' arriv'd to life's last stage!
Tho' hoary hairs thy earthly end presage!
Yet may kind heaven multiply thy days,
With many years, 'till nature quite decays!
Long may thou live an evidence to shew,
That Afric's sable race have talents too.
And may thy genius bright its strength retain,
Tho's nature to decline may still remain;
And may thou favouor us to thy latest years
With they Ephemeris call'd BANNEKER's
A work which ages yet unborn shall name,
And be the monument of lasting fame,
A work which after ages shall adore,
When BANNEKER, alas! shall be no more!

 



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Copyright, Washington Interdependence Council, 2016