Carl Douglas Upchurch

Carl Upchurch was a nationally acclaimed author and educator. A troubled childhood led to 10 years of incarceration, an experience that defined his faith, his family, and, ultimately, his life's work. Since 1982, Carl tended to the needs of thousands through his work with prisoners, his public speaking, his writing, and his leadership. His ideas on prison reform inspired him to found the Progressive Prisoners' Movement in the mid-1980s.

For his work, Carl was awarded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's National Peace Award and the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award in 1988. His vision for inner-city peace led to the development of the Council for Urban Peace and Justice in 1992, and to the first national Gang Summit in Kansas City, Mo. In 1993, that same year, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition awarded him its National Humanitarian Award.

Carl was a contributing columnist on race and social-justice issues for Columbus Alive, and went on to write his autobiography, Convicted in the Womb, which was published by Bantam Books in 1996. Showtime Cable Television made Carl's life story into a movie, Convicted, in 2002, which earned an NAACP Image Award nomination. Carl held a B.S. and a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and did graduate work at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind. and at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, Ohio. His commitment to education, civic and urban issues, and political justice earned him a national reputation. He worked for several years with Community Connection in Columbus, Ohio, and regularly spoke at prisons, schools and universities around the country.