Benjamin Sterling Turner was born a slave on March 17, 1825, in Weldon, North Carolina. Turner moved to Alabama with his owner and was sold when he was twenty years old. During the Civil War, Turner raised enough money to purchase his own property, and after emancipation he worked as a merchant and a farmer. He attended the Republican Party's state convention in 1867. In 1870, Turner successfully campaigned for an Alabama seat in the United States House of Representatives. He served one term in the Forty-second Congress from 1871 to 1873. In 1880 he attended the Alabama Labor Union Convention and served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Turner died on March 21, 1894, in Selma, Alabama.
Ragsdale, Bruce A., and Joel D. Treese. Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1989, Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1990, 145–146.