Negro Emigration

The Washington Star: October 21, 1897

Bishop Henry M. Turner, of Georgia, who is one of the best known and most highly educated negro ministers in the United States, was in Washington a few days this week, and gave the Evening Star the following interview touching the emigration of negroes to Africa, in which movement the Bishop is the recognized head, and with which he has been identified for a number of years. Bishop Turner is an enthusiast on the emigration question, and does not hesitate to say that it is only a question of extermination or emigration for the negro. He has given the question years of study, and has been censured and abused by both the white and colored races, but this has not caused him to depart once iota from his beliefs and purposes regarding African emigration.

Replying to a question Bishop Turner said:

“Some of you gentlemen of the press have seen fit to give me an occasional roasting, but I am pleased to say that in most instances the press has been ready to give my followers and myself justice. We have done nothing in this matter except in an open and straightforward manner, and we have kept no one in the dark about anything concerned with the movement. It has been our aim to give it the widest publicity possible, and I am even willing that I should be caricatured and lambasted by the press if by so doing it will aid in any way in spreading the truths of our mission and our work.

The Negro’s Natural Home 

“I think the future of the negro race lies in Africa, his natural home, and the richest country on earth. Africa is the negro’s fatherland, and the sooner he goes the better for him. This movement is far-reaching, and will change the entire history of our race. It has simply come down to extermination or emigration for the negro. Any intelligent man who has given matter consideration realizes that. Why is it so? Simply from the fact that statistics show that the negro race is dying out. It is not growing healthier, wealthier, happier, and wiser or anything else which goes to make life worth living.

“God Almighty, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, made Africa for the negro and the negro for Africa. I believe this just as much as I do that the sun shines. If I had $5,000,000 I would invest every cent in ships, and would see that every negro who wished to go to Africa got there.

“Now, some of my people want to know why I do not go to Africa and stay there. I believe I am needed here, but the very moment I can get fifty thousand or one hundred thousand negroes to go with me, I am off like a quarter-horse, and I will think it the best day’s work I every accomplished.”

“Do you not think that white and colored people get along very easily in this country?” he was asked.

Whites Will Always Reign 

“Yes, but the negro race can never be more than hewers of wood and drawers of water here. The giant race-the white race-will always reign supreme in America. John Temple Graves, a gentlemen for whom I have the highest regard, said in one of his speeches that the negro would never be allowed to control in this country, even where he has a majority. Mr. Graves also said that the price of the negro’s peace was his subordination.

“This being true, how can the negro ever hope to attain here the full stature of a citizen or a man? Intelligent negroes well know that Mr. Graves has not uttered these truths from personal prejudice, for he has pleaded the negro’s cause as but few men in the South have.

“And what does the great statesman Senator Morgan, of Alabama, say? He says that the negro will never receive social recognition here, and that the negro had better be a slave than a free man without social recognition, if he expects to remain in this country.”

“Has the African emigration movement met with the approval of a majority of the negro race?”

“No, indeed, but, on the contrary, a lot of ignorant negroes have opposed it from its very inception. They prate about the sickness of Africa and many other things of which they are in dense ignorance. The thoughtful and intelligent of the white race endorse the emigration policy, and it will yet prove a success and of untold blessings to the negro race.

May Be Re-Enslaved 

“There is some chance, too, of the negro being re-enslaved if he prefers to stay here. Some people are unkind enough to say that this kind of talk comes from a disordered brain, but that kind of stuff does not annoy me in the least.

“Africa is one of the very richest countries on earth, and with a line of steamers, owned and controlled by negroes, plying between that great country and the United States, the negro would soon grow rich and prosperous by selling to the whites of this country minerals, precious ores, gems, ivory and a thousand things which are found in abundance in that rich land, and which would fetch good prices here. I believe that the press of this country would be doing incalculable benefit to humanity by giving this African emigration policy careful study and then giving the facts as wide publicity as possible.”

“Is the movement growing satisfactorily?”

“Of course, with others, I am naturally somewhat impatient, but I can say that everything presents an encouraging look. The movement is one of vast magnitude and cannot be carried through in a hurry. It will be a glorious day when the first steamers sail for that land, which will be one of peace and plenty, and which was intended as the home for the negro race.”—Washington Star.

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