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Event Series Event Series: Upcoming Events

Benjamin Banneker and Us

October 12, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Free – $10.00

“Benjamin Banneker and Us”
A presentation by Rachel Jamison Webster

Thursday, October 12, 2023, at 7 pm (Doors open at 6:30pm)
In-person event
At the Evanston History Center
225 Greenwood St, Evanston, IL

Seating is limited. Registration is required.
See below for tickets and registration information.
Admission: $10, Free for EHC members

In 1791, Thomas Jefferson hired a Black man to help survey Washington, DC. That man was Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician, a writer of almanacs, and one of the greatest astronomers of his generation. Banneker then wrote what would become a famous letter to Jefferson, imploring the new president to examine his hypocrisy, as someone who claimed to love liberty yet was an enslaver. More than two centuries later, Rachel Jamison Webster, an ostensibly white woman, learns that this groundbreaking Black forefather is also her distant relative.

Join us for a presentation by Rachel Jamison Webster as she discusses her book, Benjamin Banneker and Us: Eleven Generations of an American Family, in which she acts as a storyteller, drawing on oral history and conversations with her DNA cousins to imagine the lives of their shared ancestors across eleven generations, among them Banneker’s grandparents, an interracial couple who broke the law to marry when America was still a conglomerate of colonies under British rule. Webster’s book sheds light on the legal construction of race and her work highlights the brilliance and resistance of early African Americans in the face of increasingly unjust laws, some of which are still in effect in the present day.

A book signing will follow the presentation. Thanks to our partner

Bookends & Beginnings

for making the signing possible!

Rachel Jamison Webster is a professor of creative writing at Northwestern University and the author of four books of poetry and cross-genre writing. She has taught writing workshops through the National Urban League, Chicago Public Schools, Gallery 37, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, working to bring diversity and antiracist awareness into creative writing curricula. Rachel’s essays, poems, and stories have been published in outlets including PoetryTin House, and the Yale ReviewBenjamin Banneker and Us is her first nonfiction book.

Questions about the event? Contact: Jenny Thompson at


Registration is required.

To register as a member, please use the “RSVP” option to reserve your FREE member ticket.

To register as a non-member, click the number you’d like to buy under “Tickets” and then “Get Tickets” to pay the $10 admission. If you would like to become an EHC member, click here to buy a membership, and then you can RSVP for the event for free.

There are two ticket options below, Member Ticket and Non-Member Ticket. There are 65 total tickets.

Tickets are non-refundable.

A registration confirmation email will be sent to the email you registered with.

If you do not receive a confirmation email, please email Erin Hughes at


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October 12, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Free – $10.00
Event Categories:


Evanston History Center Events


Evanston History Center
225 Greenwood Street
Evanston, IL 60201 United States
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