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February 1, 1834

Black religious leader, educator, and politician Henry McNeal Turner was born in Newberry, South Carolina. Born to free parents, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in his teens and was ordained to preach at age 19. In the 1850s, Turner held numerous revivals for blacks in southern states before moving to St. Louis and joining the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. He attended Trinity College (1860-62) and was assigned to a Washington D.C. congregation.  In 1863, Turner became the first African-American chaplain in U.S. history when he volunteered to become chaplain of the First Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.  At the end of the Civil War, he became a Freedman's Bureau agent in Georgia -- but he resigned after a year and began trying to build the AME church in Georgia. 


In 1867, Turner became involved in attempting to organize black voters for the National Republican Party. Four million copies of a pamphlet he wrote were distributed across the South. Later that year, Turner was selected as a member of Georgia's constitutional convention. In 1868, he was elected to Georgia state house of representatives, and reelected in 1870. In 1880, Turner became an AME bishop, with responsibility for Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. He also became chancellor of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. From the 1870s to the early 1900s, Turner became an advocate for black immigration to Africa and for expansion of the AME church there. He died May 8, 1915 in Windsor, Ontario.


February 1, 1871

Jefferson Franklin Long of Macon became the first black congressman in U.S. history to officially address fellow legislators in the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives. Long spoke in opposition to repealing federal legislation prohibiting former Confederate officials and military officers from holding public office.


February 9, 1944

Poet, novelist, and civil rights activist Alice Walker was born in

Eatonton, Georgia. Walker became involved in the civil rights movement while attending Spelman College in Atlanta. In honor of being a participant in the Youth World Peace Festival she was invited to the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962. She participated in the March on Washington the following year and was present when King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. After two years at Spelman, Walker received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York.  It was here that her talent for writing was nurtured and encouraged. Upon graduating from Sarah Lawrence Walker returned to her native South and resumed her activities in the civil rights movement, while holding a number of teaching positions. She also continued to write, publishing her first volume of poetry -- Once and her first novel -- The Third Life of Grange Copeland. She went on to publish several more volumes of poetry, then her second novel, Meridian, earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed her to devote full time to her writing. 


In 1982, Walker's landmark work --The Color Purple -- was published. It won a Pulitzer Prize and catapulted Walker into worldwide notoriety. While Walker had an active role in the making of the film version of her book, she did not write the screenplay and was not comfortable with the way her characters appeared on screen, though she expressed admiration for of the powerful performances. The movie debuted in her hometown of Eatonton, where she received a warm welcome and a parade in her honor.


February 12, 1909

1909 Arising from the Niagara Movement, W.E.B. DuBois and other key blacks founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization was incorporated in 1910. Dr. DuBois taught for many years at Atlanta University.

JIM BROWN was Born

February 17, 1936

Football great Jim Brown was born on St. Simons Island. He went on to a storied career at Syracuse University and in the National Football League with the Cleveland Browns. He has been enshrined in both the College and NFL Halls of Fame. However, he is not in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.






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