PINE BLUFF, Ark. (News release) – Rev. Jesse C. Turner, executive director of Pine Bluff Interested Citizens for Voter Registration, Inc., and Senior Pastor at the Historic Elm Grove Baptist Church in Pine Bluff will become the first Arkansas recipient of the 400 Years of African American History Commission “Distinguished Service Award.”
“To have the work I do in Pine Bluff recognized and honored by those of such high integrity and esteem mean so much to me. I have fought long and hard to gain fair treatment, voting rights, discriminate against and filed lawsuits to end discrimination in Pine Bluff on behalf of African Americans, but this has not been easy. Today, I feel the same chilly winds of discrimination blow on me again not by Caucasians because I’m a black man but by African Americans for being a black Republican. In spite of it all, I’ve learned to forgive so I may heal. It is this kind of healing which is needed in our nation today where all blacks, whites, Democrat, and Republicans can work together for the common good of the United States of America and its people. Receiving this award from the commission reminds me of the spirit of endurance and resilience which drove Africans 400 years ago to keep moving forward until they quenched their thirst for freedom. As a nation, we should follow this same spirit and call for a change in the climate of division in our country. I am extremely proud to have my record and accomplishments placed in the United States National Archives in Washington, DC. This honor is simply overwhelming and truly a blessing from God, which will live in perpetuity.” -Rev. Jesse C. Turner, Senior Pastor, the Historic Elm Grove Baptist Church.
A ceremony to announce the honorees will take place on the Day of Healing scheduled August 25, 2019, at Continental Park, Fort Monroe National Monument.