Henry McNeal Turner: “Eligibility of Colored Members to Seats in the Georgia Legislature”

Film clip. Voices of a People’s History.
Henry McNeal Turner’s “Eligibility of Colored Members to Seats in the Georgia Legislature” (1868), read by Danny Glover.

  • Time Periods: Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Slavery | Reading Levels: High School | Resource Types: Films
Henry McNeal Turner’s “Eligibility of Colored Members to Seats in the Georgia Legislature” where he stated “I Claim the Rights of a Man” (September 3, 1868).

After organizing the first U.S. Colored Troops, Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915) later joined them as Chaplain. He then became a delegate to the state constitutional convention in Atlanta. In 1868 Turner was elected as a representative to the Georgia state legislature. Soon after, he was among twenty-four legislators expelled for the “crime” of being black. Read full text of speech from BlackPast.org.

Film Clip Description

This clip is an excerpt from Henry McNeal Turner’s address to his fellow legislators denouncing the expulsions. Turner’s, “Eligibility of Colored Members to Seats in the Georgia Legislature” is read by Danny Glover, May 2, 2007, at The Great Hall of Cooper Union, New York, NY. The excerpt is from Voices of a People’s History of the United States edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.

More video clips of stories from people’s history can be found at the Voices of a People’s History website and in the film The People Speak.

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There are 2 comments by other visitors:

  • Danny Glover did an excellent job of reading this man’s history. Until this morning I had never heard of Henry McNeil Turner. I feel a lot was left out of teaching the people about men/women who made a big difference in our history. A sad fact indeed.

    Response shared by Elaine Robinson — September 4, 2014 @ 4:55 am

  • I attended Henry McNeal Turner High School in Atlanta Georgia. Danny Glover did an outstanding job with this rendition. I applaud him. Not much has changed. New legislation…New legislators…same results. However I am grateful to be an American,and proud of our accomplishments as a nation. The battle is not over. Thank you Frederick Douglass…Booker T. WASHINGTON…HENRY MCNEAL TURNER…and the countless other who bravely paved our future.

    Response shared by Glenda Howard — December 19, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

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