The Rev. Jesse C. Turner of Pine Bluff will become the first Arkansas recipient of the 400 Years of African American History Commission’s “Distinguished Service Award.”

A ceremony to announce the honorees will be held on the Day of Healing Sunday, Aug. 25, at Continental Park, Fort Monroe National Monument at Hampton, Va., according to a news release.

Turner is executive director of Pine Bluff Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Inc. and pastor at Elm Grove Baptist Church at Pine Bluff.

Joseph L. Green Jr. is the commission chair.

“The 400 Years of African-American History Commission, established by Congress on January 8, 2018, is charged with planning, developing, and carrying out programs and activities throughout the United States to recognize and highlight 400 years of African-American contributions,” Green said in a letter to Turner.

“Your nomination by Anyanwu Cox is in recognition of your enduring commitment and outstanding community service both of which exemplify the mission of the commission to commemorate 400 years of resilience and the contributions of African Americans to the United States of America.”

Turner said he was proud to have his record and accomplishments placed in the United States National Archives in Washington, D.C.

“To have the work I do in Pine Bluff recognized and honored by those of such high integrity and esteem mean so much to me,” he said.

“Receiving this award from the commission reminds me of the spirit of endurance and resilience which drove Africans 400 years ago to keep moving forward until they quenched their thirst for freedom. As a nation, we should follow this same spirit and call for a change in the climate of division in our country,” Turner said.