Turner on the Civil Rights Bill
Arkansas Mansion: October 27, 1883

When Bishop H. M. Turner of Atlanta, GA., was passing through St. Louis last Saturday, he was interviewed on the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on the civil rights question and he gave his views in fall, which was very strong and in an excitable tone. The Bishop loves his race and is sanguine in every word he utters, although we do not think the case is as bad as the Bishop and a great many other leading men think it is, on the spur of the moment. But we only find in the decision what five aggrieved colored men were asking the court to do, via making a test case of the civil rights bill, it was evident that somebody had to be disappointed, and as usual, it fell upon us. In answering the questions, of a Globe-Democrat reporter, Bishop Turner said that it is a dreadful career of federalism. It absolves the Negro’s allegiance to the general government, makes the American flag to him a rag of contempt instead of a symbol of liberty. It reduces the majesty of the nation to an aggregation of ruffianism, opens all the issues of the late war, sets the country to wrangling again, puts the negro back “into politics, revives the Ku-Klux Klan and white leaguers, resurrects the bludgeons, sets men to cursing and blaspheming God and man, and literally unties the devil.”

But the Supreme Court says it is unconditional, and do you expect the government to ignore its constitution?”

“No, But had the Negro not been involved, it would not have been so unconditional. Everybody knows that the recent amendments put the states of the Negro race in the hands of Congress. They were “ratified by the states with that distinct understanding. Besides, read the discussions in Congress upon those amendments as I have done, and every Democrat and Republican that argued against them admitted that the amendments would equalize the white and black races. Moreover, any constitution that does not embody the will of the people ought to be abolished. What is the fact, Mr.?” Do you not know that in 1872 every man in the nation, both Democrats, and Republicans, voted for the civil rights bill—every man who voted for Grant or Greely, for both of their platforms accepted the civil rights bill but seven men in Washington put their little will in opposition to the will of 50,000,000 people. Did you ever read or hear of such audacity? Why, sir, there is nothing like it since God made Adam.”

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