"He Means to Have His Way": Benjamin Sterling Turner, Alabama’s First African American Congressman
By Frye Galliard
Born into slavery in North Carolina, Benjamin Sterling Turner held little hope of a prominent future. However, he subverted the expectations of his time, teaching himself to read and becoming a trusted member of his various owners’ estates. As a child, Turner moved to Alabama, but when Civil War broke out decades later, he knew his loyalty belonged to the side promising his freedom. Turner did not neglect his home state after the war, however, choosing instead to devote the remainder of his life to public service and that service to improving his Alabama home. His approach garnered him unprecedented recognition and helped him win election to the United States House of Representatives—Alabama’s first African American Congressman.
About the Author
Frye Galliard, a native of Mobile, is writer in residence at the University of South Alabama and the author of more than twenty books about the history and culture of the South. His books include In the Path of the Storms: Bayou La Batre, Coden, and the Alabama Coast, which he co-authored with Sheila Hagler and Peggy Denniston; Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America, which won the Lillian Smith Book Award for best southern non-fiction; Watermelon Wine: Remembering the Golden Years of Country Music; and most recently, With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions.