On Monday, August 26, 2013, Christian Brothers High School celebrated 50 years of school integration. Brother Terence McLaughlin, FSC, and Mr. Jessie Turner, Jr., Class of 1967, told the story with the help of fellow CBHS graduates, Msgr. John McArthur ’66 and Msgr. Val Handwerker ’66.
Mayor A.C. Wharton and City Councilmen Jim Strickland ’82 and Reid Hedgepeth ’96 presented recognitions to Brother Terence, Mr. Turner, and CBHS for their positive impact on education in Memphis and Shelby County.
August 26, 1963… Jesse Turner, Jr. had his first day as a freshman at Christian Brothers High School. Jesse was the first African American in Shelby County to attend a previously all-white high school. Tech High School would admit an African American the following November. Thus began the long and still unfinished road of the integration of the high schools in Memphis.
Brother Terence McLaughlin, F.S.C., President of Christian Brothers College in Memphis in 1963, pioneered this integration at the request of Jesse’s parents, Jesse, Sr. and Allegra Turner. This trio weathered the opposition of diocesan officials who felt the enrollment of an African American ahead of other schools would cause unnecessary turmoil in the city. Hindsight shows that it did not cause turmoil. And Jesse’s performance at CBHS concluding with membership in the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society shows it was a move in the right direction, the moral direction, for the school and for the city.
Jesse Turner, Jr. has served as chairman of Tri-State Bank of Memphis since 1994; president since 1990, member, board of directors since 1983; served as CEO, EVP-cashier, VP, and auditor; certified public accountant since 1974. He is also the owner of Jesse H. Turner, Jr., CPA, since 1989, formerly Jesse H. Turner, CPA, a public accounting firm serving small businesses, non-profit groups, and individuals.
Jesse attended St. Augustine grade school and in 1967 he graduated co-salutatorian from Christian Brothers High School. He received his B.S. degree in Mathematics in 1971 and M.B.A. degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Chicago in 1973, and fellowships at Memphis School of Banking, 1979 and A.B.A. Stonier Graduate School of Banking, 1984.
Currently, he is the National Assistant Treasurer and National Board Member, NAACP; Treasurer and Life Member of Memphis branch NAACP; member, Finance Council, St. Augustine Catholic Church; member, American Institute of CPAs; board member, Depot Redevelopment Corporation of Memphis and Shelby County; member, Delta Boule, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
Jesse’s past civil rights service includes president & VP of the Memphis NAACP Youth Council; president, Region V Youth; founder & President, University Of Chicago College Chapter; treasurer, Memphis Branch NAACP 25 years. He participated in NAACP national youth mobilization to lower voting age to 18; in voter registration drives, picketing, and marches since 12. As the first African American to desegregate a high school in Memphis, he fought for use of African American businesses on boards on which he served and worked wards and precincts to help elect blacks and supportive whites to public office.
Jesse received the Distinguished Service Award, Memphis NAACP, in 1993; induction into the Christian Brothers High School Hall of Fame, in 1995; Simply The Best CEO Award, 1996; and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, Lemoyne-Owen College, 2004.
to view the event