Abstract 7, Volume 9, Number 3, Winter 2014

More Than Slaves: Black Founders, Benjamin Banneker, and Critical Intellectual Agency

LaGarrett J. King

Clemson University

Using the philosophical lenses of revisionist ontology and the politics of personhood, this paper explores the notion of Black Founders of the United States. introduce the concept critical intellectual agency to argue that Black Founders brought unique contributions to the American experience. Their efforts were twofold. First, Black Founders established separate Black institutions that would become staples in Black communities after emancipation. Second, Black Founders challenged the supposed egalitarian beliefs of White Founders through media outlets. To illustrate, I focus on one Black Founder, Benjamin Banneker and his letter to Thomas Jefferson to illustrate how Black Founders philosophically responded and challenged White Founders prejudicial beliefs about Blackness. This paper seeks to challenge social studies teachers’ curricular and pedagogical approaches to Black Americans during the colonial period by providing a heuristics and language to explore the voices of Black Americans in U.S. history.

Keywords:  Black founders, Founding fathers, Black history, Benjamin Banneker, Thomas Jefferson, revisionist ontology

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