Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915) was one of America's earliest black activists and social reformers. This book asserts the place of a lost voice within American and African American rhetorical history. Henry McNeal Turner lived a long and productive life (81 years) with an astonishing myriad of careers: An ordained bishop, orator, newspaper editor and columnist, chaplain, politician, postal officer, janitor, publisher, author, and philosopher. Many admired him for his intelligence, tenacity, his religious fervor and commitment to social injustices in America. Turner was born a "free black" in New Berry Courthouse, South Carolina. His father died when he was quite young leaving his mother, Sarah, and maternal grandmother, Hannah Greer, to raise him. Even though he was born a free person, he nonetheless experienced the harsh realities of prejudice and racism. A poor, uneducated, black youngster growing up in the antebellum South with no father figure, Turner had every excuse for failure; instead, he went to work at an early age to help put food on the table. He worked alongside slaves and, in the winter months, labored in a blacksmith shop.
This early exposure to the "real world" made him physically strong, and painfully aware of the inhumane treatment of blacks.