Henry Mcneal Turner

1163 WordsSep 16, 20115 Pages
Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915), was an African American leader and the 12 elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, argued for African American emigration to Africa. Henry McNeal Turner's life was guided by a faith in the capabilities of himself and his people. He grew up in Abbeville, South Carolina. He was born free, and raised by his mother and maternal grandmother. Legend had it that his paternal grandfather was an African prince. As a young boy, Turner dreamed that millions of people would look to him as a teacher, and he was determined to act on that vision. But first, he had to learn to read and write; in South Carolina, teaching blacks to do either was forbidden. Turner was raised in the heart of…show more content…
In 1880, Turner rode a wave of populist popularity to become the first southern bishop elected in the AME Church at the General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. As Bishop, Turner dedicated himself to building a denomination. The AME Church had begun to lose ground to the fast-growing Baptist denomination, which allowed greater freedom of expression during service. Turner wrote a hymnal which included adaptations of many "slave ditties," as Bishop Payne called them. He worked to give southern congregations a greater voice among the AME hierarchy, which, dominated as it was by Northerners, tended to look down on their southern brethren. And he gave women a greater role in the denomination. He even ordained a woman as deacon, but that move was condemned so loudly that he rescinded it and never spoke about it again - the one subject on which he was silenced. He would also prove to be the most controversial. He provoked white racists in print, and advocated a wholesale move of blacks back to Africa "to achieve our dignity and manhood." He ordained a woman, Sarah Ann Hughes, as a deacon in the church. During his tenure, he presided over the 8th, 5th, 1st, 12th, 6th and 7th Districts. He built alliances with Baptists. At the first Black Baptist convention, he gave the speech for which he would be forever known: "We have every right to believe that God is a Negro," he stated, proclaiming that a people needed to see their reflection in

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