The Topeka State Journal: July 6, 1899
New York, July 6.-The Sun says: A meeting of the foreign mission board of the African Methodist Episcopal church was held in Brooklyn on Friday. The board is composed of bishops of the church. Bishop H. N. Turner, of Georgia, discussed the race question, and in the course of an address he referred to President McKinley thus; “If we only had a man of strong force and purpose in the President McKinley chair, a man who had the courage to independently stand by his convictions; if we had some man like the president of France, our condition would have been ameliorated in the south. Much of the recent agitation would have been allayed.”
This was applauded by the bishops present. Yesterday afternoon the Brooklyn Eagle quoted Bishop Turner as saying before he left for his home in Georgia:
“In regard to what I said against President McKinley, I have nothing to hide. President McKinley is a fine man. He has many friends. I believe that he has as many friends among the Democrats of the South as among the Republicans, but he is a man lacking in force. He has not been true to our people when he might have been. By speaking a few words, by merely raising his hand, or in some way taking notice of us, he might have given recognition to the wrongs which we have been forced to endure. This he has not done. He has remained silent and passive. He has allowed the most awful crimes to be perpetrated against our race, when in some way he might have interfered.
“There have been great misrepresentations of this race question,” continued the bishop, speaking in his characteristic crisp way, clearing his throat between each sentence.
“I do not believe the people of the north understand the relationship that exists down south. It’s the bad element of both races which is responsible for most of the trouble. Between the best elements there is the closest tie of relationship. I recently preached in a white church, in which the white people took the gallery and tendered me and my people the church proper. Between the broad elements of both races there is no question. It is the vicious class which stirs strife.
“I do not believe in lynching in any form. I am eternally opposed to it. For the crime which prompts it I believe due punishment would come if the guilty ones were subjected immediately to a surgical operation. The case of mistaken identity is too frequent for lynching to be continued. Suppose at Cedartown, Ga., just two weeks ago, the more conservative element had not controlled, an innocent man who was afterward tried and acquitted. This surgical operation which I speak of would be just as effective as the rope.”
"Is the president's passivity on this lynching question the only grievance you people have against him," was asked.
“No, sir, it is not,” replied the bishop promptly. “We believe that the Negro should have been rewarded more for his services performed during the war with Spain. The colored man did splendid fighting. He proved himself valorous. In return some of my people wanted commissions. They claim that they have distributed a number of second lieutenancies among the Negroes. But is this so? Several colored regiments were organized toward the close of the war, but these have been all disbanded. Those who were given offices have been reduced to corporals and sergeants.
“We have had no recognition by the administration. Just now one of our regular colored regiments is leaving for the Philippines. Why does not the president give us enough officers to correspond to the fighting force of black men which represents this country? This is another great grievance which my people have against Mr. McKinley and the administration. I will say that this feeling of discontent is general among the blacks of all sections. It is a pity, too, for I believe President McKinley personally is a fine man, but he seems to have no force.”
Bishop Turner is a representative man of his race. He is the father of the colonization scheme that contemplates the ultimate return of the Negroes to Africa.