|"I am here to demand my rights and to hurl thunderbolts at the man who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. . . ."|
| Henry McNeal Turner is remembered mostly as one of the
first Bishops in the African American Episcopal Church, yet his occupations
were many. He was an army chaplain, political organizer, magazine editor,
college chancellor and preacher. From his youth Turner was active in Georgia
politics. During reconstruction he worked with Georgia politicians with
hopes to make life for 19th century Georgia a better place for blacks.
During his political career Turner introduced bills for higher education
for blacks and for the creation of a Black militia to protect black people
form the Klu Klux Klan. He also introduced a bill to give women the right
Turner later became frustrated with the treatment that Black people received in the south and vigorously encouraged black people to return to Africa. He had the support of thousands of black peasants and sharecroppers in the south.
Henry McNeal Turner was a theologian and the thinking of the Black church was a major concern to him. Much of his time was spent trying to explain the relationship between God, history and the struggle of black people in America. Turner would declare that, "God is a Negro." He told black people to reject everything that the white church said about the inferiority of blacks. Turner believed that the role of the black church was to develop racial pride and consciousness among the millions of blacks that had been beaten down by centuries of slavery and oppression. Turner played a major role in the introduction of the African Methodist Episcopal Church into South Africa.
Bishop Turner's funeral was attended by 25,000 people. There were many dignitaries present, however most of the crowd was poor blacks. Henry McNeal Turner was an agitator and a prophet who addressed the hopes and frustrations of African-Americans struggling in the 19th century.