On May 8, 1915, Author, Activist And Church Organizer, Henry McNeal Turner, Died At Age 82.
Turner Was Born Free, In Georgia In 1834. Instead Of Being Sold Into Slavery, He Was Sent to Live With A Quaker Family. He Taught Himself To Read And Write.
Turner Was An Outspoken Bishop Of The African Methodist Episcopal Church And The First African American Chaplin To Serve In The U.S. Army.
A Strong Supporter Of The African Colonization Movement, Turner Called For A Separate Black Empire And Encouraged Blacks To Return "to the land of our ancestors" And To "give the world, like other race varieties, the benefit of our individuality."
He Founded A.M.E. Churches In Sierra Leone And Liberia, Both African Colonies For Former Slaves. He Also Established The International Immigration Society.
During Reconstruction Turner Was Elected To The Georgia House Of Representatives But Denied Admission. In A November 3, 1868 Letter, Regarding The Denial Of His Seat, Turner Wrote:
"You may expel us, gentlemen, but I firmly believe that you will someday repent it. The Black man cannot protect a country if the country doesn't protect him; and, if tomorrow, a war should arise I would not raise a musket to defend a country where my manhood was denied."
Turner Was Considered "Radical" For His Time. He Was A Fiery Orator Who Preached On Issues That Made Him Controversial In The Eyes Of White And Some Black Americans. One Such Sermon Dealt With The Ethnicity Of God.
Turner Preached That God Was Black, Stating:
" We have as much right, biblically and otherwise to believe that God is a Negroe, as you buckra ("devil") or white people have to believe that God is a fine looking, symmetrical and ornamented white man. For the bulk of you, and all the fool Negroes of the country believe that God is white-skinned, blue-eyed, straight-haired, projected nosed, compressed lipped and finely robed white gentleman, sitting upon a throne somewhere in the heavens. Every race of people who have attempted to describe their God by words, or by painting, or by carvings, or by any other form or figure, have conveyed the idea that God who made them and shaped their destinies was symbolized in themselves, and why should not the Negroe believe that he resembles God."
"In Order For Black History To Live, We Must Continue To Breathe Life Into It." -- Hubert Gaddy, Jr.