Carl Douglas Upchurch was an acclaimed activist, organizer, author and educator. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1950 and died on May 2, 2003 in Bexley, Ohio.
A former gang member and convicted felon with a troubled childhood, Carl Upchurch made personal development and social justice his lifes' work. From 1982 until his death, Upchurch attended to the needs of thousands through his work with prisoners, public speaking, writing and leadership. His ideas on prison reform inspired him to found the Progressive Prisoners Movement in the mid - 1980's. For his work, Carl was awarded the the Southern Christian Leadership Conferences' National Peace Award and the Fellowship of Reconciliations' 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 later the founding of the National Council for Urban Peace and Justice during the first national 'URBAN PEACE AND JUSTICE(GANG PEACE) SUMMIT in 1993. Carl served as the founding President of the National Council for Urban Peace and Justice (NCUPJ)
and played a key role in its development and direction.
Upchurch 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 Upchurch's life story into a movie, Conviction
, in 2002, which earned an NAACP Image Award
Upchurch held a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and did graduate work at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana and at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, Ohio. His committment to education, urban issues and social 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.
Carl Upchurch is survived by his wife and three daughters. His inspirational and visionary leadership will be missed.