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Gasohol! Black Farmer & Distilled Spirits Plant Operator Albert Turner

With Gas so high and the desire to be friendly to Climate Change, to reduce Carbon Monoxide with Greenhouses, we need to look at Black Farmer Albert Turner of Selma, Alabama. He was a Civil Rights activist but he was an innovator that was ahead of his time. He was one of the first black individuals to have a Distilled Spirit Plant(DSP) permit in the country to manufacturer ethanol, which is major. We should not be so

focused on being the first, but being excellent and great. Technically, speaking Ethanol can be a fuel or it can be for drinking. The processes to generate alcohol are technically the same, from fermentation to distillation. The major difference beyond the tax rate, is the types of materials used in distillation apparatus and the yeast used in the alcohol conversion may produce ethanol that is not fit to drink, as it quantity over quality.

Albert Turner Sr, was the field secretary for Martin Luther King Jr’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Alabama’s Black Belt region. Turner was born in 1936, in Marion, Perry County and he was one of 12 children to land owning farmers Emerson and Lottie Turner. Turner said his family was never sharecroppers or tenant farmers after Emancipation, but were independent business and property owners. Multiple g

enerations of Turners owned land and had acquired a higher level of education than their peers, and I believe it was due to being land owners. Emerson Turner was a vocal community advocate for racial equality and began the first public school busing system in Perry County, helping rural Black Students access the all-black school. This sounds like Briggs vs Elliott or Levi Pearson vs Clarendon County with black farmers who were landowners and they willingness to fight for education. Albert Turner went to HBCU Alabama A&M to study history and Mechanical arts. All his siblings graduated from college back then, thus reinforcing why education is so important. Despite going to college, he decided to being a brick layer to avoid the racial injustice, that working in the trades would enable. My belief is that Turner could be independent and a self sufficient business ma

n that is providing something all people need, a component of food, water, and shelter. Turner was a committed activist, but let’s talk about his most significant work as it relates to high price gas in 2022. In the 1970s, a

s America confronted an energy crises, Turner and Southwest Alabama Farmer’s Cooperative Association (SAFCA) to help black farmer access government loans and programs that had been available to white farmers for decades, wanted to break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The legacy Pigford Farmers wanted fair access to government loans and programs, and as recent as the Black Farmer Debt Relief bill which will likely go unfulfilled as white farmers will believe they are not given the same benefits. Black farmers have a long history of not getting access to programs. I can assure you if black farmers were helped, the small family farmers would have benefited because in reality both groups are losing to large Wall Street funded farms. Side bar in 2022, insuring that black farmers have email addresses associated with their Farm Service Number over a decade ago would made sure that a number of farmers did not get leave out of funding opportunities, like my own father. Back to Turner, he was a self taught chemist that worked with scientists at Purdue University to improve gasohol’s efficiency and lower production costs. Albert Turner partnered with lifetime liquor man Albert Hubbard. Hubbard said he was not a moonshiner as he only sold it in batches like 200 gallons at a time instead of a pint, which I appreciate his humor. Hubbard came out of retirement to make legal ethanol but he said it was not fit to drink. Turner and his work was being observed for his groundbreaking work by the Department of Agriculture at the time, because in the 1970s it could have reduced the dependence on Foreign oil over 50 years ago, if it was allowed to stay in place.

Today Gasohol is a used to describe a gasoline-ethanol blend that is 9 parts gasoline and 1 part ethanol. The benefit of ethanol is that it raises the octane rating of lead-free automobiles fuel and significantly decreases the carbon monoxide from tailpipes. With the high fuel costs in 2022, the government is allowing a E15 blend temporarily to help reduce fuel costs. The use of ethanol in a fuel mixture is another way to reduce corn surpluses, that have been greatly enabled by GMO processes or biotechnology. As an engineer, I was always fascinated by biotechnology, so much so that I started taking extra hours in college to obtain a biotechnology certificate. The GMO technology has pros and cons. While I am not personally a fan of GMO food for consumption, I do believe it has a place in food, especially if it will insure no one in the world go hungry, which is not the use of surplus corn.

Sometimes people tout there are first at something without truly doing all the research. When you are the first, it is an accomplishment but can also put an unwarranted bullseye on your back. What if Albert Turner touted being the first, would he have gotten as far or would his community have gotten further. Also, in a lot of cases you are not the first one because you are building upon what others have done before you., legal or not because some marginalized people were not allowed to get the paperwork. What one should be focused on in my humble opinion is working to be the best or favorite. Particularly in making spirits for drinking, you should want to make the best flavored spirits product possible, no matter if it is moonshine, corn liquor, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, gin, and rum.


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