Black History Boston: Chuck Turner
Charles “Chuck” Turner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 10, 1940. In 1963, he graduated from Harvard University, receiving his degree in government. Immediately following his graduation, he moved to Washington, D.C., working as a reporter for The Afro-American Newspaper for a year. He then moved to Hartford, where he joined the Northern Student Movement, a civil rights group that provided economic and social support for the Southern Student Movement, which were engaging in sit-ins.
In 1966, Chuck came back to the Boston area, joining the South End Neighborhood Action Program (SNAP), working to help community members who were in danger of losing their homes due to gentrification. Witnessing the lack of social services pertaining to higher rates of trash in Black neighborhoods, Chuck organized the Black community to move the City to provide better trash clean-up services. Chuck served in leadership for the United Community Construction Workers and the Boston Jobs Coalition, campaigning against job discrimination and advocating for increased hiring of Black people on City construction jobs. One of Chuck’s greatest accomplishments included the successful campaign to prevent the City from building a highway through Roxbury, Dorchester, and the South End.
In 1999, Chuck was elected to the Boston City Council as the councilor of District 7, which includes all of Roxbury and parts of Fenway, Dorchester, and the South End. He held this position for over 10 years. During his time in the City Council, he authored an ordinance protecting transgendered people from discrimination. Chuck also successfully led an effort to protect the Affirmative Action guidelines of Massachusetts when the Governor sought to change them. As chairman of the City Council's Education Committee, Chuck fought against educational inequality in the Boston Public Schools.
Chuck Turner passed away on December 25, 2019. Nearly 80 years old, he worked tirelessly to support the human and civil rights of the most vulnerable members of the Boston community. He is remembered fondly for giving his time, energy, and life to the people of Roxbury and beyond.
Thank you, Chuck, for all of your work and those that you continue to inspire with your life!!