Henry McNeal Turner was a man of many talents. He was a Black nationalist, a bishop in the African Methodist Church, and there was something else – he had dreams of seeing his people go back to Africa. Why?
Racial injustice! Convinced Black people couldn’t find social justice in America, he proposed that we emigrate back to Africa. In 1893, he called for a Black national convention, the first serious instance where repatriation was discussed. So what happened?
Well, nothing. But that didn’t deter Turner. Anytime he preached, he talked about emigration.
He also included his ideas of returning to Africa in his publications, Voices of Mission and The Christian Recorder. Did his messaging work?
His idea was popular in the South among poor Blacks, and he managed to send 500 people to Liberia! But they were met with racist shenanigans from white colonizers.
But there was another major reason his repatriation idea failed.
Inundated with misinformation about Africa, and not wanting to give up their hard-earned middle class lifestyles, northern Blacks in particular were not receptive to repatriation.
Nevertheless Turner’s work planted the seeds for liberation that flowered into Marcus Garvey’s Back To Africa Movement, Malcolm X’s Black economy and the concept of 40 Acres and a mule as reparations. Even now we can see his influence in Black Americans moving to Ghana and the current talks on reparations. His work inspires us to continue our fight liberation. What seeds will you plant today for the cause?
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