Thursday, February 25th, 2021 by

Benjamin Sterling Turner was enslaved in Alabama. Despite obstacles and hardship, Turner would overcome the odds and teach himself to read as a child. That literacy paved the way for Turner to become a successful businessman during the Civil War and the first African American representative in Congress for Alabama during Reconstruction. His story, one of bravery, perseverance, and dedication, has inspired some of Alabama’s most important figures, including Representative Terri Sewell. Rep. Sewell, in a visit to a Selma elementary school classroom, remarked that she stands on Turner’s shoulders. During that very visit, Rep. Sewell donated a copy of NewSouth’s illustrated children’s book about Turner, entitled The Slave Who Went to Congress, to every child in that school’s fourth grade. Inspired by her generosity, the authors of that book, Frye Gaillard and Marti Rosner, in partnership with NewSouth Books have launched a GoFundMe campaign designed to gift a copy of The Slave Who Went to Congress to every public elementary school in Alabama.


Turner’s story is told for children for the very first time in The Slave Who Went to Congress, a beautifully illustrated picture book that movingly describes Turner’s challenges and achievements. Few are the books about Turner. This true inspirational tale, lauded by many since its publication, will resonate with young readers, particularly those from marginalized and underserved communities. Thus was born the idea of crowdfunding the donation of copies to schools across the state. Please take a moment to consider supporting our campaign with your personal donation, and help empower a new generation of kids with the gift.