A Question of Color
The Daily Evening Bulletin: May 13, 1884

BALTIMORE, MAY 13—Bishop Turner, of Atlanta, who is attending the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this city, said yesterday, “In some parts of the South the colored people are treated very fairly, while in others we are taught to recognize our color as soon as our feet touch the soil. But our condition is better than it was ten years ago.”

Are you treated the same since the Civil Rights Bill was declared unconstitutional?

“There is no material difference except on the railroads and steamboats.” Nothing has hurt us so much since the day we were emancipated from the action of the Supreme Court. I have heard nearly every colored man I met while traveling abasing the Supreme Court Judges. The railroad companies compel us to buy first class tickets and then oblige us to ride in smoking cars. In several instances, pistols have been drawn on colored customers to force them to submit to such degradation and railroad officials excuse themselves by saying they are only protecting their interests.”


“A few weeks ago I met my wife at Cleveland, Tenn., who was returning from Washington to my house in Atlanta. I conducted her into a first-class coach. A brakeman rushed in and said, “Here, you folks will have to go into the front car.” I told him my wife had the heart disease and it would be dangerous for her to inhale smoke. He interrupted us with “Don’t stop to argue, get out, or I will put you both out,” and he moved toward my wife. I said, “I want no trouble, but if you touch my wife there will be a funeral tomorrow in either in your family or my own.” He gave me a terrible look and passed on. My wife remained in the car and I went into the smoking car. Another case occurred on the Louisville and Nashville Road. Mrs. Sarah Lewis boarded the train, and as she was refused admittance to any of the first class cars, she remained on the platform. Because the conductor could not pull her into the smoking car, he


She has entered suit against the company. There are several ministers from the South attending the general conference in Philadelphia, who were inveigled into buying first-class tickets upon the promise of the agents that they would be permitted to occupy first-class cars, but upon leaving New Orleans, they were obliged to go into smoking cars. The officials told them they would either have to go into the smoking car or go to hell.”


He says the colored people expect a plank will be put in the Republican platform in June that will bring the matter squarely before the people.

“What do you think will be the future of your race?”

“We are not dying out as predicted. The negro is the junior race of the world, with the possible exception of the Australian. We have a good future. Our race will be waxing for centuries after the white race will have begun to wane. The negro is a boy, the white a man. When the man shall have reached old age and dotage, the negro will be in his prime and glory and rule the world. I think in a few years the better class of colored man will go to Africa and 


while the rig-raff of our race remain here. The advantages of such migration are many. Recently vast discoveries of wealth have been made in every part of that continent. God has put his hand on our race and will give us means and marvelous agencies. It may be that the Supreme Court decision was designed by Providence to ensure the negro to a sense of his responsibility.

Has your race not sufficient advantages in this country?”

“No, for no people can advance who are treated as we are. In some places in America black is supposed to


And white to represent God. But this is partially wrong, for the devil is white and never was black. There are as many blacks as whites in the universe. There are black worlds, and I think


In heaven—in fact, there are angels of all colors there. I know I do not represent my race in taking the position I do, as a great mass of them are anti-Africans in the emigration sense, but it is only a question of time when they will awake from their slumber and see things in a different light.”

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