Thomas Wyatt Turner

Last updated
Thomas Wyatt Turner
Born(1877-03-16)March 16, 1877
Hughesville, Maryland,
United States
Died April 21, 1978(1978-04-21) (aged 101)
Nationality American
Education Howard University,
Cornell University
Occupation college professor, botanist
Known for founding member of NAACP
Title emeritus professor
Spouse(s) Laura Miller, Louise Wright
Parent(s) Eli Turner and Linnie Gross (Turner)

Thomas Wyatt Turner (March 16, 1877 April 21, 1978) was an American civil rights activist, biologist and educator. Born in Hughesville, Maryland, [1] Turner attended Episcopal local schools after Catholic schools refused to admit him because of his race.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Hughesville, Maryland Census-designated place in Maryland, United States

Hughesville is a census-designated place (CDP) in Charles County, Maryland, United States. The population was 2,197 at the 2010 census. Truman's Place was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.



After receiving the proper credentials, Turner headed to the Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, where he taught academics in biology. Later, he gave service to various public schools in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1914 to 1924, he served as a Professor of Botany at Howard University in Washington, D.C., [1] and also served from 1914 to 1920 as the Acting Dean at the Howard's School of Education.

Alabama State of the United States of America

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.

Botany science of plant life

Botany, also called plant science(s), plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη (botanē) meaning "pasture", "grass", or "fodder"; βοτάνη is in turn derived from βόσκειν (boskein), "to feed" or "to graze". Traditionally, botany has also included the study of fungi and algae by mycologists and phycologists respectively, with the study of these three groups of organisms remaining within the sphere of interest of the International Botanical Congress. Nowadays, botanists study approximately 410,000 species of land plants of which some 391,000 species are vascular plants, and approximately 20,000 are bryophytes.

Howard University university in Washington D.C.

Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. It is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with higher research activity and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

While working at Cornell University in 1918, Turner did special work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maine, where he examined potato fields. The American government consulted Turner throughout his career about agricultural problems. Under the auspices of the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Turner worked as a collaborator on Virginia's plant diseases. He was also the first black person ever to receive a doctorate from Cornell. In 1931, Turner organized the Virginia Conference of College Science Teachers in 1931, and served as president of that group for two terms. Turner also was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Society for Horticultural Science, both of which he was very active in.

Cornell University private university in Ithaca (New York, US)

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Maine State of the United States of America

Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Maine is the 12th smallest by area, the 9th least populous, and the 38th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is bordered by New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest respectively. Maine is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States, and the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways, as well as its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. There is a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, including in coastal areas such as its most populous city of Portland. The capital is Augusta.

American Association for the Advancement of Science international non-profit organization promoting science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world's largest general scientific society, with over 120,000 members, and is the publisher of the well-known scientific journal Science, which had a weekly circulation of 138,549 in 2008.

Turner was also known as an activist who was a staunch defender of black rights and civil liberties. His activism, curiously, has overshadowed his many scientific accomplishments. In 1909, he was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was also active in trying to get blacks the right to vote. He was eventually honored with a lifetime membership in the NAACP. Turner was initiated as a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity in 1915.

NAACP Civil rights organization in the United States

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey.

Phi Beta Sigma historically Black fraternity

Phi Beta Sigma (ΦΒΣ) is a collegiate and professional fraternity founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students with nine other Howard students as charter members. The fraternity's founders, Abram Langston Taylor, Leonard Frances Morse, and Charles Ignatius Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would exemplify the ideals of Brotherhood, Scholarship and Service while taking an inclusive perspective to serving the community as opposed to having an exclusive purpose. The fraternity exceeded the prevailing models of Black Greek-Letter fraternal organizations by being the first to establish alumni chapters, to establish youth mentoring clubs, to establish a federal credit union, to establish chapters in Africa, and establish a collegiate chapter outside of the United States, and is the only fraternity to hold a constitutional bond with a predominantly African-American sorority, Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ), which was founded on January 16, 1920, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., through the efforts of members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Turner was active in Catholic organizations and in societies for the advancement of African-Americans. On December 29, 1924, [1] Turner founded Federated Colored Catholics (FCC), an organization that he said was "composed of Catholic Negroes who placed their services at the disposal of the Church for whatever good they were able to effect in the solution of the problems facing the group in Church and country". Turner remained a loyal member of the Roman Catholic Church despite suffering discrimination: he wrote of being asked to move to the back of the church when attending Mass in St. Louis. In 1976, Washington, D.C.'s Black Catholics named its highest award for Turner. That same year, at age 99, Turner was awarded a degree by The Catholic University of America. [1]

The Federated Colored Catholics (FCC) was a national religious organization, founded in 1925, composed of Catholic African-Americans.

St. Louis Independent city in the United States

St. Louis is an independent city and major inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which marks Missouri's border with Illinois. The city had an estimated 2017 population of 308,626 and is the cultural and economic center of the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, the second-largest in Illinois, and the 22nd-largest in the United States.

He died at the age of 101 in 1978, 36 days after celebrating his birthday.

Related Research Articles

Charles Hamilton Houston was a prominent African-American lawyer, Dean of Howard University Law School, and NAACP first special counsel, or Litigation Director. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, Houston played a significant role in dismantling Jim Crow laws, especially attacking segregation in schools and racial housing covenants. He earned the title "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow".

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson President of Howard University

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson was an American educator and pastor. He served as the first black president of Howard University, from 1926 until 1960. Johnson has been considered one of the three leading African-American preachers of the early 20th-century, along with Vernon Johns and Howard Thurman.

John Hope (educator) African-American educator and political activist

John Hope, born in Augusta, Georgia, was an African American educator and political activist, the first African-descended president of both Morehouse College in 1906 and of Atlanta University in 1929, where he worked to develop graduate programs. Both are historically black colleges.

Father James Edmund Groppi was a Roman Catholic priest and noted civil rights activist based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Mary White Ovington American activist, NAACP founder

Mary White Ovington was an American suffragist, journalist, and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Wyatt Tee Walker was an African-American pastor, national civil rights leader, theologian, and cultural historian. He was a chief of staff for Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1958 became an early board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He helped found a Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) chapter in 1958. As executive director of the SCLC from 1960 to 1964, Walker helped to bring the group to national prominence.

Archibald Grimké American lawyer and diplomat

Archibald Henry Grimké was an American lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen's schools, Lincoln University and Harvard Law School, he later was appointed as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898. He was an activist for rights for blacks, working in Boston and Washington, DC. He was a national vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as president of its Washington, DC branch.

Edwin Henderson American basketball player

Edwin Bancroft Henderson, was an African-American educator and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) pioneer. The "Father of Black Basketball," introduced basketball to African Americans in Washington, D.C. in 1904, and was Washington's first male African American physical education teacher. From 1926 until his retirement in 1954, Henderson served as director of health and physical education for Washington D.C.'s black schools. An athlete and team player rather than a star, Henderson both taught physical education to African Americans and organized athletic activities in Washington, D.C. and Fairfax County, Virginia, where his grandmother lived and where he returned with his wife in 1910 to raise their family. A prolific letter writer both to newspapers in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and Alabama, Henderson also helped organize the Fairfax County branch of the NAACP and twice served as President of the Virginia NAACP in the 1950s.

Aaron Henry American civil rights leader and politician

Aaron Henry was an American civil rights leader, politician, and head of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP. He was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which tried to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Russell L. Adams, an American author and professor. He is the Chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department at Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Lillie May Carroll Jackson, pioneer civil rights activist, organizer of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. Invariably known as "Dr. Lillie", "Ma Jackson", and the "mother of the civil rights movement", Lillie May Carroll Jackson pioneered the tactic of non-violent resistance to racial segregation used by Martin Luther King and others during the early civil rights movement.

George Williamson Crawford American lawyer (1877-1972)

George Williamson Crawford was a lawyer, public servant and an activist for African-American civil rights in New Haven, Connecticut.

T. Gillis Nutter West Virginian lawyer

Thomas Gillis Nutter, commonly known as T. Gillis Nutter, was an attorney, businessman, and politician in Charleston, West Virginia, United States. Nutter is best remembered as a pioneer African-American member of the West Virginia Legislature, gaining election in 1918 and re-election in 1920 from an overwhelmingly white district, at a time when state disenfranchisement of blacks across the South had resulted in the exclusion of most blacks from statewide politics.

Katherine "Flossie" Bailey was a civil rights and anti-lynching activist from Indiana. She established a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Marion, Indiana, in 1918 and became especially active fighting for justice and equality following the double lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in 1930. As president of the Indiana NAACP, Bailey was pivotal in lobbying for passage of a statewide anti-lynching law in Indiana in 1931 and advocated for a similar bill at the national level. She was also a recipient of the national NAACP's Madam C. J. Walker Medal.

John Andrew Singleton was a civil rights activist, dentist, and member of the Nebraska House of Representatives. He served as president of the Omaha, Nebraska and then the Jamaica, New York branches of the NAACP. He was an outspoken activist and received the nickname "the militant dentist" while living in Jamaica, New York.

William Henry Steward civil rights activist from Louisville, Kentucky.

William Henry Steward was a civil rights activist from Louisville, Kentucky. In February 1876, he was appointed the first black letter carrier in Kentucky. He was the leading layman of the General Association of Negro Baptists in Kentucky and played a key role in the founding of Simmons College of Kentucky by the group in 1879. He continued to play an important role in the college during his life. He was also co-founder of the American Baptist, a journal associated with the group, and Steward went on to be the journal's editor. He was a leader in Louisville civic and public life, and played a role in extending educational opportunities in the city to black children. In 1897, his political associations led to his appointment as judge of registration and election for the Fifteenth Precinct of the Ninth Ward, overseeing voter registration for the election. This was the first appointment of an African American to such a position in Kentucky. He was elected president of the Afro-American Press Association in the 1890s He was a close associate of Booker T. Washington, and in the late 1890s and early 1900s, Steward was a prominent member of the National Afro-American Council, which was dominated by Washington. He was president of the Council from 1904 to 1905. He was a lifelong opponent of segregation and was frequently involved in anti-Jim Crow law activities. In 1914 he helped found a Louisville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which he left in 1920 to become a key player in the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC). He was also a prominent freemason and twice elected Worshipful Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky.

Clement G. Morgan African-American lawyer and civil rights activist

Clement Garnett Morgan (1859-1929) was an American attorney, civil rights activist, and city official of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Born into slavery in Virginia and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, he trained as a barber before moving to Massachusetts to pursue his education. He was the first African American to earn degrees from both Harvard University and its law school; the first African American to deliver Harvard's senior class oration; and the first black alderman in New England. As an attorney he handled many civil rights cases, in one instance closing down a segregated school. He was a founding member of the Niagara Movement and of the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mame Stewart Josenberger

Mame Stewart Josenberger was an American educator, businesswoman, and clubwoman, based in Arkansas for most of her career.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Marilyn W. Nickels (1988). "Thomas Wyatt Turner and the Federated Colored Catholics". U.S. Catholic Historian. 7 (2/3): 215–232. JSTOR   25153830.

Further reading

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.