Henry McNeal Turner – God is Black



Waah gwon, good day , hello and nice to meet ya. This is the AfroTrad’s inaugural post. I look forward to sharing my views and perspective with everyone, hopefully I can gain enough readers and commentators to make this an interesting venture.

     My first post will feature one of my favorite words; Buckra. I associate the use of the word Buckra with the Geechee or Gullah people of South Carolina but I imagine it was used by others Blacks also. Buckra generally just means white person and can be said with contempt or neutrally, I prefer the former when possible. Who couldn’t use a largely intelligible racist word to spout out on occasion? I certainly could. Buckra is thought to have been formed from the word Mbakara which means master in the Efik language spoken by the Ibibio people of Southern Nigeria.

Now the subject of this post, Black Repratrionist and AME church Bishop Henry McNeal Turner.  Mr. Turner was born in Newberry, South Carolina as a free Black child, due to his mother being a German.  As a youth he was largely a laborer in the cotton fields and an apprentice at a blacksmith’s shop.  Unsurprisingly, he formed no appreciation for these “careers.”  For the brother saw himself as a leader of men, even as a child, he dreamed of himself atop a mountain preaching to people awaiting his direction.  This desire likely led him to his later career as a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  As a testament to Negroes of that era, Elder Turner’s main ambition while young was to educate himself and he went through great lengths to achieve this goal. In pursuit of his aim , the industrious Mr. Turner worked to achieve his goal with the aid of another Black man who could not read but was a prodigy with sounds.  Henry used his knowledge of the alphabet—gained from a short spell when he was taught by a white boy and his mother—a Webster’s Dictionary he procured, and his associates skill with sounds to learn how to read a goodly portion of the words in the Webster’s Dictionary.

At the young age of 15, Henry gained employment at a law firm. The lawyers were so impressed with his ability to remember everything said to him, to the letter, they helped him finished his quest to learn to read.  The assistance he received from his employers in concert with an angel Mr. Turner saw in his dreams who helped him pronounce words he had mispronounced during the day enabled the industrious young man to gain an impressive command of the English language.  Through prayer and a boundless commitment to his goal, Elder Turner reaped the rewards. The time with the lawyers and prayer “taught me in defiance of state laws… how to read accurately history, theology and even works on law. Also taught me arithmetic and geography , astronomy and anything I desired to know except English grammar  which I manifested no desire to study.” I admire his refusal to learn English grammar as I too doggedly refuse to learn it, though in my case it’s not be quite purposeful.

In addition to eventually learning English grammar, a short time later in life under the tutelage of ministers, a priest and a rabbi, he learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew and German. Combined with his great oratory skills and ambition, this training,  led him to be a leader and a power with-in the African Methodist Church, being appointed a chaplain to the Black troops during the civil war by Abraham Lincoln, he was later recommissioned to be the Chaplin of the general army, serving in various places in the South. He has a venerable laundry list of achievements. He lectured relentless and eventually built the largest AME convention, in 1868 he was elected member of legislator and was reelected in 1870 he served until he and other Black men were expelled simply for being Black. I would go on but if anyone is curious to learn more they can follow the links I will provide later. I will go on to say with all his great achievements he had an obvious confidence in the Black man.

He also wrote this, quite scandalously and brave for the period, in regards to how the Negro should see Jesus:

We have as much right biblically and otherwise to believe that God is a Negro, as you buckra 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 paintings, or by carvings, or any other form or figure, have conveyed the idea that the God who made them and shaped their destinies was symbolized in themselves, and why should not the Negro believe that he resembles God.

If you would like more info on this great man check out this link. Men of Mark

2 thoughts on “Henry McNeal Turner – God is Black

  1. Pingback: The African Methodist Episcopalian Church’s Four Horsemen | AfroTraditionalist

  2. Pingback: Black History Month – Let it Begin. | AfroTraditionalist

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