Carlton Turner is the Regional Development Director for Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts membership organization based in the southeast. Carlton has been a member of Alternate ROOTS since 2001 and has served as the Louisiana/Mississippi representative for one year. Carlton is currently working as the project director for UPROOTED: The Katrina Project. This project seeks to raise the voices of Katrina's survivors and connect them with all of America's marginalized citizenry. It is designed to be a catalyst for self determined change in the Gulf Coast region and throughout the country.
Carlton Turner is also artistic director and co-founder, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the performing group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction) a group composed of two brothers performing a blend of jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry and soul music on a totally conscience tip. M.U.G.A.B.E.E. has released two albums, "Earth Tones" (2002) and "World Domination" (2006). They are currently touring a new play "Batteries in the Killing Machine" across the country. Carlton studied English and history at the University of Mississippi from 1992-1996. M.U.G.A.B.E.E. is currently working with Mondo Bizarro to create a two-year performance project on issues of race and racism in the United States. This work will premiere in the summer of 2009.
Over the past two years Carlton has worked as a panelist and facilitator with the Center for Civic Participation Arts & Democracy Project helping to present conversations in six cities over the past 18 months. This project demonstrates how the creative power of arts and culture—especially among those who have been traditionally disenfranchised—can be a catalyst for action. The Center for Civic Participation’s Arts & Democracy Project is supporting a developing movement that draws on a rich history of arts activism, social justice organizing, and cultural engagement.
In addition, Carlton works as a lead convener with Voices from the Cultural Battlefront: Organizing for Equity. This network is an ongoing 20-year international conversation about the role of art and culture in the struggle for human rights, including social justice, cultural equity, and a healthy natural environment. Hundreds of activists who are grounded in the cultural life of their local communities, who represent a variety of fields (including education, art, health, and youth services), and who are from all seven continents have participated in these conversations.
In the past Carlton has worked as the Jackson organizer of The Mississippi Color Line Project (MCLP), a national initiative of Junebug Productions, headed by John O’Neal. The MCLP engages artists, educators and organizers in the collection and archiving of stories from people who were involved in The Civil Rights Movement. The work will result in the creation of great art, innovative educational projects and productive community organizing. Equally important, this process helps people in communities to work together to create activities, programs and projects that challenge injustice.
Additionally Carlton has also worked as an Arts Educator with the My Mississippi Eyes (MME) Program at Lanier High School in Jackson, MS. MME helps students to empower themselves and change the culture of the school into a more inclusive one. The program studies The Great Migration from Mississippi to Chicago during the years of 1917 to 1970 and the social, economic and political implications of the migration. This is done by using art to help the youth understand the importance of organization and community structure and preparing them to become community organizers and more involved in the political process.
Carlton is currently on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, on the planning committee for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and a member of the Free Southern Theater Institute’s planning board named the Phoenix Squad. Carlton is also on the planning advisory board of the Parents for Public Schools in Jackson, Mississippi.
Carlton lives in Utica, Mississippi with his wife Brandi and two children, Johathan (10), and Xiauna (2).
photo by Griff Griffin