Mary Turner: The woman born on Malcolm X’s Birthday that you must know about

maryturner

The story of Mary Turner is one for the ages and it’s also a reminder of the kinds of struggles that people of color have endured since this nation was founded.   Mary was born in 1899 and died on May 19, 1918, exactly seven years before the birthday of the great Malcolm X.

What happened to Mary in Georgia is a powerful reflection of the environment in which Malcolm X was born, and shows the necessity of the work of the great black leader.   Turner was lynched in Valdosta, Georgia by an angry mob after she publicly denounced the killing her of husband.   She wasn’t just killed:  The pregnant woman was hung upside down and burned alive and had the child removed from her body.

A 31-year old white plantation owner by the name of Hampton Smith, a man known for abusing his workers, was shot and killed by a black employee by the name of Sidney Johnson.   Because none of the free African Americans had wanted to work for the abusive employer, he used convict labor to run his farm.   Johnson was one of those men that was forced to work on the man’s farm against his will – The United States Constitution says that slavery, to this day, remains legal for those who’ve been convicted of a crime.

After going through several beatings at the hands of Smith, Johnson grew tired of it.  The tipping point for him was when he was badly beaten for not working because he was sick.  That’s what led to Smith getting what he deserved from Johnson.

Smith also had a bad history with Mary Turner and her husband Hayes.  Hayes was sentenced to a chain gang for threatening Smith and telling him that he could no longer beat his wife, who worked for Smith at the time.

After Smith was killed, there was a weeklong manhunt, which led to the deaths of 13 people.  One of the men killed was Hayes Turner, Mary’s husband.   The mob took Hayes out of custody and lynched him, even though his wife was eight months pregnant and told the mob that her husband had nothing to do with Smith’s murder.

After hearing Mary threaten to have the mob arrested, they decided to “teach her a lesson.”   The woman tried to run away, but the mob caught her and brought her back.  They then tied by her by the ankles, hung her from a tree, covered her with gasoline and set her on fire.

While she was alive, the mob cut the woman’s stomach open with a knife.  Her baby fell to the ground, crying and the mob stomped on the child’s head and crushed it.

Over 500 black people left the area after the lynching, despite being threatened with death for choosing to leave.

The press in the north got word of the lynching and many white newspapers chose not to mention her pregnancy, while the black press mentioned it repeatedly.  The  Associated Press even audaciously wrote that Mary Turner made “unwise remarks” about the execution of her husband, and that “the people, in their indignant mood, took exception to her remarks, as well as her attitude.” 

Despite the fact that the governor of Georgia, Hugh Dorsey did an investigation of Mary’s murder, no one was tried or ever convicted in the killing.

Turner’s death may have been an awakening, since Malcolm X was born on May 19, the same day that Turner died, but seven years later.  Malcolm would go on to become one of the greatest and most neccesary black leaders in American history.  Mary Turner was one of his inspirations, leading him on a lifelong mission for black empowerment, self-defense and equality.  Malcolm would spend his life speaking up for the Mary Turners of America and we must continue to do so today.

 

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There are 43 comments for this article
  1. Bert C at 8:25 pm

    On some level I am reminded of James Byrd Jr. death. This needs to go virile. Talking about a Holocaust, this is just one story. I don’t believe there is no where in history that Blacks has been this evil.

    • ELois Poole-Clayton at 11:04 pm

      ALERT!
      Chester MHC(in Chester, Illinois), has several african americans who ARE that evil!
      PS: After years of my family filing written COMPLAINTS about rapes and other assaults on our loved one, I thought to change our strategy of HOW we communicate with them and we have received (2) COMPLAINTS ‘SUBSTANTIATED’ against the very ones that the admin., has been lieing and COVERING UP for!
      PPS: Again, my visits were illegally stopped on 09/19/2006, because I filed a legitimate complaint and again, they illegally stopped them again on Nov. 2, 2013 because I would NOT play “footsie” with an STA(female guard of african decent that was present during my visit) OR go along with our David’s “psychiatrist” who got angry because I wouldn’t assist her at convincing him to keep taking drugs that constipate him;could LOCK his BOWELS and kill him(just as it could happen to her , you or I)., but after writing to DPH, and exposing their evil lies/ways on the internet, my visits were RESTORED(by way of a letter mailed to I on this March 17, 2014).
      ATTN: Now(from learning of HOW they munipulate or try to intimidate us;professing silently to cause trouble for us because we ARE courageous concerning their ABUSES), we are ON WATCH concerning WHAT they will try next, with our sister for she has been falsely JAILED for (3) days in ‘2001’, because she wouldn’t be intimidated by guards during a visit with our brother!
      ATTN: I USE to believe that our sisters and brothers wouldn’t harm eachother, but my family and others has been fighting just that, along with other nationalities, for years.
      Children are BULLIED to do things that they normally wouldn’t do, but those children are now in their (50’s) and understand what and who the people are, who bullied them for years(some even family members) and we are NOT taking it ANYMORE.
      As for the ones that is so far gone that they STILL are trying to bully people, I PRAY that they change their lives around for people are TIRED and are NOT taking it anymore.
      Individuals are being jaiiled for trying to PROTECT their children, when these ROUGE COPS(like Jon Burge, Devoryce who rape indivs. in custody at 15th district police station, Beautreu(another Jon Burge cronie) and many others, are the ones that Anita Alveraz and Lisa Madigan are looking over and it MUST be stopped AND prosecuted, ASAP!

    • Diva at 11:07 am

      Our ancestors went through immense torture, pain, ridicule, disrespect, and humiliation. Society only recognizes the torture of the Jews at the hands of Hitler. No one cares that African Americans endured their own holocaust on US soil in a country where they didn’t ask to come. How is that fair. When we talk about slavery today, people dismiss the impact. However, if you breath anything about the Jews or the Holocaust, people will trample you over to pay attention to them and the country will come to a standstill if you compare the African American struggle to theirs. Simply ridiculous. It was the same!!! My people withstood the same maltreatment and got nothing: no apologies, no reparations, nothing. However, they are still feeling the effects of cruel institution of slavery.

  2. Linda Crowder at 12:48 am

    I hate when a person writes a misleading title! The title of the article was as if Malcolm was born on the same day of the murder.

  3. Derrick A. Capers at 1:20 am

    Whites have to be the vilest, evilest being ever spawned on the world, not all, but a great majority of them! This same spirit haunts our country today & survives in the bleakest recesses of the Pukeglickkklans & their Master Koch bros!
    I too, hope for unimaginable deaths on them & the curse on their offspring, till time stands still!
    My God Bless men like Sidney Johnson & all the strong people who flourished under such horrid conditions & prepared the foundation on which we stand today!!
    There's no doubt in my mind, as a Black Man, I would've perished that day TOO!

  4. Wil May at 11:06 pm

    Past history and right up to the present, reflect just how evil the white man is with his thug ways and actions. His power is slowly eroding and in another 20 years white will become a minority. Unfortunately, we will have to support them on Social Security, Medicare, and other social service program. I am becoming increasing more angry as an African American at the way whites have in the past and present treated and abused African American. Mr Charlie day is coming.

  5. Rodney Wood at 3:39 am

    Even as tragic as this event was it is a part of our history and we must never forget what our ancestors endured and continue to fight for our God given rights as a people.

  6. VDub at 1:12 am

    Interesting that we choose to respond with the same level of hate and vileness that has been directed at us.

    I believe human beings of all ethnicity and race are capable of insane levels of cruelty. Once a people has convinced themselves that another group is for whatever reason somehow subhuman while they are more superior, the rationalizing such treatment comes with no thought of morals or decency. Yes, it happened in Germany during World War II but it also happened in Rwanda and continues to happen between groups of people in Africa, Europe, Iran, Pakistan, and Southeast Asian cultures.

    Our lesson for correcting this has been provided in the examples Jesus Christ provided in breaking down the cultural and racial walls we insist on erecting. Look up the following examples: The Good Samaritan, Jesus Confronts the Woman at the Well, Jesus Heals the Phoenician Woman, Jesus Dines with Sinners and of course we have to include the Golden Rule: Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength AND love your neighbor as you love yourself. LET’S BREAK THE CYCLE OF HATE IN OUR WORLD AND LOOK PAST OUR DIFFERENCES. WE CAN’T CELEBRATE OUR DIFFERENCES UNTIL WE LEARN TO SEE THE VALUE IN EACH AND EVERY HUMAN BEING!!

  7. Craig Bonnett at 6:16 am

    Insanity, means doing the same thing repeatedly and in turn looking for a different outcome. White AMERICA , has continued to do the same evil wicked & vile acts towards us,"AFRICAN AMERICAN'S" for the last 400 years. Yet we seem to keep looking for a different outcome. When things haven't changed [ INSANITY ]

  8. Diane Simpao at 10:03 am

    The brutality of mob comes to afflict humanity , without borders.
    Truly, Mrs. Turner was a 'Daughter of God' , a saint.
    How to pray . Praying her Angels delivered her and dear child out of the temple quickly.
    And the mob? What will be their karma?
    God Bless the good that Malcolm X did.
    Thankyou

  9. Mushman Peets at 1:05 pm

    Same here too. I would have been slaughtered a long time ago, because I would not put up with the cruel nasty evil vicious acts of the self-hating white masses. I would fight 'till death for my freedom and dignity.
    It's strange that so many black folk still see fit to get down on their knees and worship their nasty vile white man slave master Jesus Christ. Total madness man.

  10. marla lee at 9:30 am

    It will never change to the fullest, they would rather the world come to an end and fast too. They would not stand by and put up with what was done to us, they wouldn’t be able to take it and they wouldn’t if they could! But they really need to think about how it would feel if it had been done to them, Question is would you like it??????

  11. Adrienne Noble-Clark at 2:54 pm

    Lowndes County, GA…the EXACT same county where Kendrick Johnson's murder is currently being covered up. Some things never change…history has a way of repeating itself. Just like they tried to cover up what they did to Mrs. Turner, they are trying to do the same thing with KJ. We are not fooled.

  12. Iya Kai at 1:04 pm

    A post on another Black website provided documented information on Mary and the 150 Black women who were lynched between 1870 -1957, these women – their names, the dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. I sent it to my email list and told the brothers and sisters to send it to every person of African descent they know. This is part of our history — Amerikkkan history that we must pass to our children and grandchildren. They will not learn this in school. It’s up to us to teach them.

    After reading the accounts of the lynchings, the Egun (ancestors) spoke to me and directed me to do something so they will be remembered. I broke down and cried like a baby because I could feel the horror and pain that these women endured. Egun directed me to conduct a sacred libation ceremony to remember them and bring some peace to their souls.

    The recent discussion about legislation introduced in Pennsylvania to mandate teaching the Jewish Holocaust didn’t and won’t include subjects like this. These lynchings are a part of the “African Holocaust – the Maafa” that some folks, including some Negroes, want us to forget. The Maafa included the Middle Passage, 300+ years of chattel slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and continues to this day. For more information on these lynchings, go to http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com.

    I am asking all spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent to join me 3:00PM, Sunday, March 30 at Congo (Washington) Square, 6th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia, for a sacred libation ceremony in remembrance of our sisters. Please wear white – no black or dark colors. Bring your children because they must know and learn about this forgotten history
    so it will never be repeated.

    We must never forget these women – our sisters — who were brutally tortured and lynched. NEVER AGAIN!

  13. Larraline Adams at 6:31 pm

    They were hateful & some are still hateful they thought of them as being animals and stomp a new born baby to death I know God punish them…

  14. Merry B at 9:01 pm

    @lindapchowder
    The title may be misleading but the content raises awareness to the black experience although horrific nevertheless an essential part in American education. Also the facts reveal that the architects only whites devised deliberately this US Constitution law to assure that forever slavery remains in America. Incarcerated mostly in America are African American. A significant number uneducated an unaware an alarming amount new source of free labor blacks in the prison plantation many after released from jail are mobbed by criminal records background checks and lynched economically.

  15. Hinda Gibbs at 1:02 am

    Mushman Peets Don't be stupid. Yeshua is NOT a white man slave master. Jesus as you call him IS NOT WHITE. He came from Northeastern Africa that the white man now calls "the Middle East." Look at a map and see where Israel is located. You have been brainwashed by catholic myths that would have you think that Yeshua (Jesus) is white. Oh you probably think that Egypt is a white country. Jesus and his family went into Egypt where they blended right in. Look at the Sphinx. His nosse was destroyed by the British because it was too broad.

  16. Mary Baker at 1:14 am

    Why do the Jews remind the Germans with a museum of the horror they experience? The Jews won't allow the world to forget about their holocost and they received reparations.

  17. George Semper at 2:43 am

    This is a horrific story which reminds us of the times of slavery and its associated acts. Throughout the history of African Americans we see relationships to this same horror and indignities against our people.
    Power, fear and separation are the tools that enable these types of acts to continue. Were we stolen or were we handed over by our African brothers? Did we fight as one or did we individualize our struggles in pursuit of our freedom? There is no excuse for this insane cruelty to have happened then or any similar acts today. There is no doubt that the acts of oppression by racist cultures have had their foot in the African Americans throat for over 400 years.
    Until “We, The People” Unite and bring “Power to The People” Fear and separation will keep us divided and susceptible to similar travesties.
    Today are we united in the cause to empower, remove fear and unify or have we forgotten our past and will we continue to fail with this “insanity” (Craig).

  18. Tony R. Gill at 11:38 am

    Turner’s death may have been an awakening, since Malcolm X was born on May 19, the same day that Turner died, but seven years later.
    What in the… Seriously? Inciting black people to be angry about past abuses without cause is one thing. Trying to tie Malcolm X birth to this story is simply stupid! Damn get ya shit together and stop being cynical like the white people you write about in these articles.

  19. Walter Oliver Neal at 5:26 pm

    For black people, Hell wasn't some mystical place, mentioned in the Bible; Hell WAS FOR REAL, right here, in the good, ol' U. S. of A., and the demons who tormented us, were the white men and women who enjoyed its fruits!!!

  20. The truth! at 12:36 am

    Stop comparing what hitler did in uropa . He went through europa killing his OWN people. We were put on ships and drop off in North, South, Central and the island at the hands of the gentile of europa. We had our names, religion, language, and culture was taken and replace with hate, ignorance, and self destruction. That is the real holocaust, it still exist today.

  21. Aziz Zerhouni at 11:18 pm

    Mary Turner died on May 19 1918 , exactly seven years before the "birth day" of Malcolm X (born May 19, 1925)

  22. Mushman Peets at 11:48 pm

    Hinda Gibbs I don't give a damn how you describe this none entity. To me, as far as I am concerned, this Jesus character never existed…ever! It's all fictional fantasy bull shit. We black folks need to come down to reality and get rid of the fairy tales, It's destroying us as a race.
    No wonder we are still standing at the back of the bus heading nowhere fast.
    I don't give a horse's arse about some fairy tale character called jesus christ…black or white, it's all crap.

  23. Krystal Ansley at 3:58 pm

    I got no words for this wtf is wrong with people how can we have ever or still do this kind of shit to another human livin being we are all ONE I KNOW THE PEOPLE WHO DID THAT AND SHIT LIKE THAT GOT A SPECIAL KIND DEATH WAITING ON OR CAME TO THEM !!!! Burn hotter fyah on they asses

  24. Pingback: Bringing Light to Dark History (Let’s Do That) | achurchforstarvingartists

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