Carlton Mackey

Director, Ethics & the Arts Program
Carlton Mackey Photo

Contact Information


At Emory

Carlton Mackey is the director of the Ethics & the Arts Program and Associate Director of the D. Abbott Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership at the Ethics Center. Mackey is the Co-creator/Co-Director of the Emory University Arts and Social Justice Fellows Program. The Arts and Social Justice Fellows program brings six Atlanta artists into Emory classrooms to help students translate their learning into creative activism in the name of racial justice. Mackey is a Lecturer in Emory's Department of Film and Media.

Mackey currently serves on the University Committee on Naming Honors. Serving in an advisory capacity to the president of the University, the University Committee on Naming Honors will examine new historic names for and review contested historic names associated with buildings, spaces, programs, scholarships, and other celebratory titles that honor individuals.

As part of the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) consortium -involving more than 75 institutions in the U.S., Canada and the UK, Mackey also currently serves on the steering committee for the Symposium on Slavery and Race at Emory University — founded on the premise of “sharing best practices and guiding principles about truth-telling projects addressing human bondage and racism in institutional histories.”

Mackey was chosen by the then university provost and president to be the Creative Director of the launch event of One Emory, a new strategic framework and campus-wide initiative intended to help grow Emory’s recognition around the world.

Formerly, Mackey served on the advisory boards of the Youth Theological Initiative at Candler School of Theology and the Emory College Office of LGBTQ Life. For his work on campus and in the community, Mackey was awarded the Emory University Award of Distinction and was awarded the first-ever Creativity in the Arts Award and a grant by the Emory Center for Creativity and Arts.

As an Artist

Mackey is a Teaching Artist at the High Museum of Art, curating and leading the ‘Art Talks Back’ monthly public dialog series which examines a work of art in the High’s permanent collection through the lens of a contemporary social issue and an instructor of its Teen Team, a one-year program which includes an eight-week summer intensive.

He is an award-winning professional photographer and filmmaker. For his documentary 17 Degrees Ain't Nothing, an intimate profile of five people experiencing homelessness in Atlanta, Mackey was awarded the first-ever Creativity in the Arts Award and a grant by the Emory Center for Creativity and Arts. Mackey is the creator of 50 Shades of Black, a multifaceted platform for creating an interactive global dialogue and author of the accompanying book 50 Shades of Black, Vol. 1: Sexuality and Skin Tone in the Formation of Identity. Exploring these themes through visual art, literature, curated blogs, educational curriculums, and workshops, 50 Shades of Black aims to explore the ways in which individual experiences of race and sexuality give rise to the formation of our unique and complex identities.

Mackey was the winner of the One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge for his project Typical American Families. This grant, funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, is awarded to ideas that best bridge faith and culture in the city of Atlanta. He is the creator of Black Men Smile, a resistance, and empowerment movement for Black men and Beautiful in Every Shade, an apparel company and empowerment movement with a mission to transform the way everyday people from around the world see themselves and others.

In the Community

Currently, Mackey serves on the National Board of Directors of ForeverFamily, an Atlanta-based nonprofit serving youth who have one or more incarcerated parents, on the Board of Directors for K.I.N.G.S. Mentorship, and on the Atlanta Board of Education Ethics Commission. Formerly, Mackey served on the board of directors of the WonderRoot Center for Arts and Social Change.

Mackey serves on the curatorial committee for "Atlanta Legacy Makers: A Tribute to Mayors Allen and Jackson" Public Art and Archive Project –an initiative led by Central Atlanta Progress in partnership with the City of Atlanta.

Mackey co-created the Community Conversation Facilitation Guide for “Off the Wall” –a large-scale public art initiative by The Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, the City of Atlanta, and the arts and advocacy organization WonderRoot. The project produced nearly 30 public murals to capture the past, present, and future of Atlanta’s historic civil rights legacy and current social justice movements. The complete collection of works is part of the City of Atlanta’s permanent public art collection. The design of each “Off The Wall” mural was developed through Mackey’s series of direct, facilitated community conversations.

Mackey has served on grant selection committees for Arts and Services Contracts for the City of Atlanta Arts and Cultural Affairs Office and was the co-curator of “Beauty In Harmony” –an art exhibit in Atlanta City Hall to commemorate the city’s first-ever Day of Religious Pluralism.