LOVE, TRUTH, PEACE, FREEDOM AND JUSTICE
Our students, members and Citizens should be very familiar with Grand Sheik F. Turner-El’s name because his name is on our charter. you will see why he’s an International Grand Sheik after reading the posts. The first place most of us have heard about him is through word of mouth, and also his name and pictures being mention in the book “The Negro, the black, the Moor” by Rommani M. Amenu-El.
However through research, we were able to follow Grand Sheik F. Turner-El’s words, works and deeds through newspaper articles. The articles that we have to share with you, show his activity in the Moorish movement between 1936 and 1963. That’s 27 years of activity pertaining to Moorish affairs. (longer articles will appear in separate posts links below)
Since the original posting of this information a work was compiled of many of the articles mentioned and other information into a written work entitled Grand Sheik Frederick Turner-El: A Moorish-American Trailblazer. Before we get into the newspaper articles, we do have some information on his early years.
One newspaper shows that Grand Sheik F. Turner-El said he was born in Cincinnati, Ohio; he graduated from the University of Cairo, he spoke 10 languages fluently and another source shows his full name as Tamad Fredrick Turner-El.
Grand Sheik F. Turner-El’s father was Grand Governor E. Turner-El. In the year 1913 in the City of Newark, State of New Jersey, the Prophet Noble Drew Ali formed a group of Moorish Americans under the name of “Canaanite Temple”. E. Turner-El was a member of this group. In 1926, Prophet Noble Drew Ali formed The Moorish Temple of Science No. 1 in Chicago, Illinois and changed the name of the Canaanite Temple to The Moorish Temple of Science No. 10 in the same year. E. Turner-El was the Assistant Grand Sheik of The Moorish Temple of Science No. 10. In August of 1933 E. Turner-El moved to the Borough of Brooklyn, City and State of New York; and with the assistance of his son F. Turner-El formed Moorish Science Temple of America No. 23.
On the 19th of September 1933 Sheik C. Kirkman-Bey, the national leader at the time clothed E. Turner-El and F.Turner-El with the appropriate power and presented them with a certificate to appoint the national office of Grand Governor for the State of New York to E. Turner-El and Grand Sheik to F. Turner-El. Grand Sheik F. Turner-El and Grand Governor E. Turner-El had under their jurisdiction Temple #21, #23, #27, #34 and #41 in Brooklyn, New York and was put in charge of them by Sheik C. Kirkman-Bey.
“Consul Comes To aid of Moor On Gun Charge”
The first article from Tuesday July 7, 1936 in the Albany New York Evening Journal.
The article reads as follows: “The Moorish-American Consulate rallied today to the aid of Rudolph Myers-Bey. One of six persons arrested by Albany police after a wild chase through Pine Hills streets last week. Myers-Bey is slated for hearing late today on gun possession charges. Into Police Court, in red fez with a carnation in his lapel, came Frederick Turner, official representative of Moorish Ambassador C. Kirkman-Bey.
He conferred with Acting Police Justice Duncan and announced he would represent Myers-Bey, who is just plain Rudolph Myers to Patrolman Charles O’Hagan, who made the arrests. Turner never offed the fez, which he told newspaper men is symbolic that he is an official. Were he a warrior of his race, he said, he would sport a black fez, and if an ordinary citizen, a purple one.”
“When A Hat Is Not A Hat”
The next article was done on Friday January 29, 1937 in the Rome New York Daily Sentinel.
The articles reads: “Ruling that a fez is not a hat, Chief Justice William M. Maltbie has permitted Moors to wear it when appearing before the Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals in Connecticut, upon the request of Grand Sheik F. Turner- El of the Moorish diplomatic service. It is explained in the dispatch from Hartford that ‘the fez is the religious symbol and national costume of the Moors.’ That a fez is not just as much a hat as that worn by cardinals though differently shaped, does not seem to be born out of the dictionaries. Neither does it seem to be true that it is exclusively Moorish; although the city of Fez has manufactured great quantities of them in the course of the years and is suppose to have given its names to the headgear. While the reference books do not agree as one might like, it is made to appear that the Sultan Mahmud II, early in the 19th century, ordained it as part of official dress and it was held to identify Turkish subject whether Mohammedans or other wise.
As the sultan of Turkey was then the head of the Moslem faith, citizenship and religion would seem to have become more or less confused in some regions. While the countries along the African shores of the Mediterranean had their own sultans or other rulers, they also for some decades owed nominal fealty to Constantinople. The anomaly in the Connecticut episode lies in the fact that since the deposition of the sultan and caliph in Turkey, the Turks have been forbidden to wear the fez. In any event, the chief justice would have been on firmer ground had he allowed the fez to be worn in the court room on religious grounds solely-since it serves all the purpose of a hat, except as some hats keep the sun out of the eyes which the brimless fez does not.”
“Moors Celebrate Birth of Prophet”
Tuesday, January 11, 1938, an article done by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The article says: “Celebrating the birth of the prophet Noble Drew-Ali, more than 500 Moorish people and their guests gathered at a dinner and a ceremonial Saturday night at the Moorish Science Temple, 44 Jefferson Ave. The birth of the prophet on Jan. 8, 1886, was made a Moorish national holiday shortly after his death in 1929. F. Turner-El, representing the Moorish consulate, was in charge of the proceedings.”
“Moors to Establish a Mecca For 20,000 in Yaphank Area”
the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Saturday, April 16, 1938
The articles reads: “Plans for establishment of a Moorish colony at Yaphank, which will serve as a mecca for the 20,000 Moors in Greater New York and Connecticut were outlined last night by Grand Sheik F. Turner-El. spokesman for the Moorish Council of the Eastern States, at a meeting at 864 Gates Ave. ‘The colony,’ he said, ‘will be a place where more than 1,000 homes, built in the Moorish style of architecture, will be set up in the near future.
Land in the Garden Heights section has already been purchased with funds representing contributions to the Moorish Science Temple of America, and construction on some of the houses was begun about a month ago.’ ‘We feel,’ he said, ‘that the colony we are anticipating will provide better housing conditions for the persons in this country of Moorish descent, and will permit them to practice the customs and religious tenets of Morocco.’”
“SHEIK SEEKS LENIENCY FOR LAMONT WATSON-EL”
Wednesday, January 15, 1941 article by the Poughkeepsie, New York Daily Eagle
The article reads: “A man describing himself as Grand Sheik F. Turner-El, of Brooklyn, shepherd of the flock of which Lamont Watson-El former local artist, model and ash collector is a member, waited upon District Attorney Schwartz yesterday afternoon. Sheik Turner, who wore a brilliant red fez sought to intervene on behalf of Watson-El who pleaded guilty before County Judge Flannery to an abandonment indictment. The case was adjourned for one week for sentence.
Watson-El is accused of having abandoned his wife, Mrs. Bertha Watson, who does not claim the ‘El’ designation. It took Sheik Turner an hour to explain to Mr. Schwartz, Assistant District Attorney Gellert and Sheriff Close that Watson-El, who has a dark-complexion, is a Moor and not a Negro. Sheik Turner explained the ‘El’ designation, by asserting members of the Moorish church of Mohammed are entitled to the designation to show that they are Moors — not Negroes.
“Schwartz to Ask Prison for Watson-El: Two Cases Await County Court Action”
Monday, January 20, 1941, a follow up of the “SHEIK SEEKS LENIENCY FOR LAMONT WATSON-EL” article by the Poughkeepsie, New York Evening Star and Enterprise
The article reads: “Sing Sing prison sentences will be recommended for two men who have pleaded guilty to abandonment charges. District Attorney Schwartz said as he prepared for disposition of their cases before Judge Flannery in county court tomorrow. They are Lamont Watson-El, 44, former local ash man and artist’s model, and Joseph R. Kelly. 37, lineman who formerly resided in Montgomery Street before moving to Hartford without his family
Watson, who now calls himself Watson-El and professes to be a member of the Mohammedan faith, pleaded guilty to abandoning his wife and two children. In spite of intervention of Grand Sheik F. Turner-El of Brooklyn, who offered to aid in rehabilitating the family of Watson-El, and of Simon R. Kaplan, author and municipal ash contractor who offered to restore Watson-El to the ash collecting payroll. Mr. Schwartz indicated that he will recommend Sing Sing instead.”
“Moors Call for Unity at Berkshire Session”
article by the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper on June 28, 1947
It reads: “GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.–‘The colored man must do three things to achieve victory in his fight for a place in the world,’ Grand Sheik F. Turner-El of the Moorish Science Movement told a press conference here last week. They are: Forget forever the use of the derogatory term of ‘Negro’; learn the true historical background of great people and their contributions, and make themselves strong individually and in the nation that we may be heard when we speak. The Remarks were made at the interorganizational conference of the Moorish Science Movement at its Berkshire homestead here. ”
“The Moorish Science Temple Holds Two Day Convention”
Saturday, June 28, 1947, the New York Age
The article reads: “GREAT BARRINGTON. Mass., Despite the feet that one of the featured speakers, who was to represent Governor Robert Bradford was taken to the hospital with a heart attack a few hours before the meeting was scheduled to open, the Interorganizational Conference of the Moorish Science Temple here Saturday and Sunday proved to be the most successful gathering of its type recently held in this area. Heading the two-day session was Grand Sheik F. Turner-El, head of the Moorish movement in this country. Present for the sessions were over 200 delegates representing thousands of people scattered over 15 states of the Union. F. A. Ajaye, African-American importer; Arthur Reed, head of the Harlem Labor Council; and Madame Margot-Bey were among those heard during the sessions.
Ajaye called for the creation of a ‘Center of culture, enterprise and unity which will become to our people what the United Nations is to the World.’ Mr. Reed pointed out that ‘Many of our troubles are not the fault of other people; they are our own. We can be respected when we are united.’ Madame Margot-Bey called for the expansion of our producing facilities and advantages. Henry H. Ham-Bey gave an excellent financial report on the organization, and stated that it plans the immediate creation of a school for the dissemination of the true facts of history, and the increasing of the present holdings of the organization to where they will represent ‘A true investment in a kind of security that few people ever dreamed of.’ ”
“MIIA Plans Conference”
On Saturday, April 23, 1949 The New York Age
The article reads: “The Moroccan International and Inter-Organizational Association’s conference will convene May 14-16 at its national shrine at Great Barrington, Mass., where the first Negro slave was freed in the U. S. Heading this conclave will be Grand Sheik F. Turner-EL, executive counselor and moderator of the Moorish American Movement which has helped many African students studying in this country. The M.I.I A. was established 16 years ago by Sheik Turner-El to ‘rehabilitate the so-called 18 million Negroes in the U. S.’ According to the Sheik, it is not a ‘back-to-Africa’ movement.
M.I.I A. believes that America was formerly a part of the Moslem empire. Sheik Turner-EL declared that the main theme of the convention will be to stress coordination among Negroes through the M.I.I.A. Participants are coming from such nations as India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Egypt. There will be a Moroccan bazaar during the meeting where authentic goods from the participating nations will be on sale.”
“ MOORS TO FORM BRIDGEPORT UNIT ”
Grand Sheik Visits City to Assist 100 with organization Plans. Organization of a Bridgeport unit of the Moorish Science Temple, the Divine and National Movement of North America, Inc., with local headquarters at 405 Main Street was announced today by Tamad Fredrick Turner-El, Grand Sheik and National Counselor of Brooklyn. The organization which is headed here by JACOB E. HOLMES, World War Veteran, as Sheik and Mr. J. Chavis, Grand Sheik, has been in existence for about five months and has 100 members. The unit meets each Sunday afternoon. In telling the objects of the organization, Grand Sheik Turner-El said that it is strictly patriotic and non-subversive and that its members are directed to uphold the constitution of the United States.
The temple has been in existence more than 15 years and its purpose is to teach the persons of Moorish descent their history, nationality and other phases of their background. Through these teachings, the grand sheik points out it hoped to engender self respect among his people so that others will respect them. Through the organization the reformation of the colored people will be sought. A unit has been in existence in Hartford six years. The past national convention was held there in September with the lieutenant governor as the principal speaker. The national organization owns 800 acres of land in Woodstock where they also conduct a home for the aged. They have just purchased a $50,000 site in the Berkshires where they will send wayward boys and girls for rehabilitation through farm work and study.’ ”