Benjamin Sterling Turner
Turner although born a slave in 1825, his widowed owner, Elizabeth Turner moved to Selma, Alabama in 1830. He got educated while listening in on lessons of the white master’s children.
The 20-year-old was sold to Major W.H. Gee Elizabeth Turner’s in law. Gee made him manager at his hotel and livery stable and could keep parts of the profit.
At the time of the Civil War he had enough funds to buy some properties to which most of the were lost to the war.
After the war he worked as a merchant and farmer and subsequently opened a school in Selma in 1865. He had this desire to educate freed slaves.
In 1867, he went to the Republican state convention and gained the consideration of local GOP officials. That same year he was chosen as the Dallas County tax collector.
Turner was elected a Selma councilman in 1869, but he resigned in protest after being offered recompense because he believed public officials should not be paid when economic conditions were poor.
He made a bid for a southwestern Alabama seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1870 to much protests from the white Republicans.
The second largest black voting bloc in Alabama threw their weight behind him since they constituted 52 percent of the district.
“Running on a balanced platform of “Universal Suffrage and Universal Amnesty,” he defeated Democrat Samuel J. Cummings with 18,226 votes (58 percent) in the November 8 election, taking his seat in the 42nd Congress (1871–1873).”