Birth of AME Bishop Henry McNeal Hot

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Henry McNeal Turner, bishop for the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, is born free in Newberry Courthouse, South Carolina. Widely considered the most important figure in the history of the AME after Richard Allen (its founder), Henry McNeal Turner will be raised by Quakers and taught to read at a law firm.

Henry McNeal Turner will have a profound religious conversion at 15, become an evangelist for Methodism, then at 24 he will be ordained a pastor for the AME Church. In 1880 he will become the first southern black to made bishop in the AME Church.

Over time, Henry McNeal Turner will become extremely disenchanted with American politics and the effort to achieve equality. Reacting to the Supreme Court decision that it's unconstitutional to bar racial discrimination in trains, hotels, and other public space, Turner writes:

"The world has never witnessed such barbarous laws entailed upon a free people as have grown out of the decision of the United States Supreme Court, issued October 15, 1883. For that decision alone authorized and now sustains all the unjust discriminations, proscriptions and robberies perpetrated by public carriers upon millions of the nation's most loyal defenders. It fathers all the 'Jim-Crow cars' into which colored people are huddled and compelled to pay as much as the whites, who are given the finest accommodations. It has made the ballot of the black man a parody, his citizenship a nullity and his freedom a burlesque. It has engendered the bitterest feeling between the whites and blacks, and resulted in the deaths of thousands, who would have been living and enjoying life today."

As a result of developments like this, Turner will throw his support behind the "back to Africa" movement - the idea that former slaves would be better off if they simply left America and returned to the home their ancestors were taken from.

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