top of page

Rev. Jesse Turner’s Historic Speech at the National Press Club in DC

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Rev. Jesse Turner was honored by the 400 years of African American History Federal Commission, becoming the first Pine Bluff resident to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Image Credit: Pine Bluff Commercial

The 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act was signed into law January 8, 2018 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619. The Commission is devoted to highlighting the contributions made by African Americans throughout history in all spheres of life, including fields such as medicine, the arts, politics, sports, science, and business. They accomplish this goal through three means: education, community engagement, and honoring African American community leaders.

On March 10, the 400 Years of African-American History Federal Commission invited Rev. Jesse C. Turner of Pine Bluff to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In doing so, Rev. Turner became the first African American from Pine Bluff to speak at the Club.

This honor comes as no surprise as Rev. Turner has long served as a trailblazer and force of change in Pine Bluff. He is the executive director of Pine Bluff Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Inc., president of Pine Bluff Faith Community Coalition Ministerial Alliance, and pastor of the Elm Grove Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in Arkansas. He has also partnered with the PEN OR PENCIL Initiative of the National Alliance of Faith and Justice for a number of years.

The PEN OR PENCIL Initiative is a culturally-based academic and mentoring enhancement curriculum aimed at helping African American youth to choose a pathway to higher education rather than one that leads to the penitentiary.

At the National Press Club, Rev. Turner addressed members of the Ministerial Alliance along with his PEN OR PENCIL collaborators. During his speech, Rev. Turner stated, "Faith-based mentors have made an impact on violence and negative behaviors on school campuses. However, to sustain the success, faith-based mentors must remain visible at least one hour one day a week. The success of Pastors on Patrol revolves around three Cs. They are courage, commitment and consistency." He also went on to say, "When deployed, the method is a proven and effective tool for reducing violence and negative behaviors, in some cases by 33 percent. Working as a team, Pastors on Patrol has demonstrated that success can happen and even greater success is possible when courage, commitment, consistency is built on Christ as our foundation.

According to Rev. Turner, the impact of the Ministerial Alliance Pastors can be seen throughout the U.S. as school officials from around the nation have shown interest in their work. Queen Sugar, a television show produced by Oprah Winfrey, has also portrayed Pastors on Patrol in one of their episodes.


Written by: Ninfa O. Barnard

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page