Typical American Families, press, news


Dear Supporters of Typical American Families,

We are thrilled to announce the reception and unveiling of our exhibit, Typical American Families –Atlanta,

winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta IDEAS Challenge.

Please join Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Knight, as we celebrate you! 

Meet the families that participated in our photoshoots who represent the diversity of the American family.

You will hear stories and view how these Atlanta residents bridge faith and culture in our city. 

At this event, you'll gain insight into Mackey and Knight's inspiration for the project and get a behind the scenes glimpse of the making of this exhibit.  You’ll also be able to hear from the families themselves as they offer commentary on the experience of being part of this project and what they celebrate about their own families.

Typical American Families is one of four signature projects of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

The reception will begin at 6:30 pm on May 7th

at Emory University’s Center for Ethics

1531 Dickey Drive

Atlanta GA 30322

 Light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.


Please register to attend:


Contact Mika Pettigrew with questions.


50 Shades of Black, news, press

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ Creator works with Emory University student to bring 'Vision In Action'

Emory University student Shanice Kellman works with BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ creator as she develops her new Beautiful Flaws project for 'Vision In Action'. Photo by Breonca Trofort.

Emory University student Shanice Kellman works with BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ creator as she develops her new Beautiful Flaws project for 'Vision In Action'. Photo by Breonca Trofort.

'Vision in Action' fellowships cultivate student ideas for social change

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | March 19, 2015


Projects arise from unexpected moments and places. Shanice Kellman, a junior majoring in sociology and media studies, was inspired to apply for a 2014-2015 VIA Fellowship after observing her 6-year-old cousin playing with dolls.

“I kept hearing her say that her black doll wasn’t pretty,” Kellman recalls. “If she didn’t think her black doll was pretty, how did she feel about herself?”

The child’s words weighed on her. “As a black woman, the one-dimensional images we see in the media are always something I’ve been cognizant of and wanted to address,” she says. “Going into my project, I knew I wanted to do something to support a more diverse definition of beauty.”

Through VIA, she’s had the chance to do just that, working with Carlton Mackey, director of Emory’s Ethics and the Arts program, adjunct professor of African American studies, and curator of the multi-media project, “Beautiful in Every Shade” — an experience made richer by readings that have deepened her understanding of class, race and media.

“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” she says. “I had no confidence going into this and he offered me an emotional foundation.”

This spring, Kellman is preparing to launch her “Beautiful Flaws” campaign, a week-long multi-media event that emphasizes that “beauty can come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.”

“My project is coming to life right now,” she says. “It’s been an amazing year.”



community dialogue, international initiatives, news, 50 Shades of Black, 50 Shades of Latino

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ partners with Fearless Dialogues for Creative Change

Fearless Dialogues creator Dr. Gregory C. Ellison, II invites participants at Methodist University in Sao Paulo to see the unseen.

Fearless Dialogues creator Dr. Gregory C. Ellison, II invites participants at Methodist University in Sao Paulo to see the unseen.

The creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™  traveled to the Methodist University of Sao Paulo in Brazil to partner in leading one component of the transformative experience founded by Dr. Gregory Ellison, II called Fearless Dialogues.  

Fearless Dialogues is a grassroots initiative committed to creating spaces for unlikely partners to engage in hard, heartfelt conversations that see gifts in others, hear value in stories, and work for change and positive transformation in self and other.

The Fearless Dialogues team creates spaces for transformation like none other. It is our niche. Radical hospitality lessens anxiety, reduces power differences, and level the playing field for hard conversations to occur.

Fearless Dialogues holds firm to the belief that artistic mediums reframe sterile and hostile environments into spaces for lively and engaging interaction.  The Fearless Dialogues team routinely utilizes the powerful visual narratives created by the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™  team to bolster its mission and give expression to these beliefs.

Typical American Families, news


We finally finished one of the hardest decision making processes in the life of Typical American Families to date. 15 Atlanta families from over 200 submissions have been chosen to receive a FREE PHOTO SESSION with celebrated international photographer Ross Oscar Knight.

These photo sessions will occur over the next two months and will culminate in a photography exhibit and a facilitated dialogue where each of the families will see their photos and meet the other chosen families for the first time. This event and the unveiling of the exhibit will take place at the Emory University Center for Ethics in the Spring.

Typical American Families (ATLANTA) was a winner of the 2014 One Region Atlanta Ideas Challenge Grant. The project is a component of the Ethics & the Arts Program and is a signature project of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE, a grassroots movement created by Ethics & the Arts Program Director Carlton Mackey that seeks to celebrate the beauty found in every human being.

Leading up to the exhibit, Typical American Families will share some of the stories and photos of the Atlanta area families who submitted. These heartfelt, emotional, funny, and inspiring stories represent a beautiful spectrum of the diverse ways of 'being a family'. Crossing barriers of race, religion, ability, class, sexuality, and age this project seeks to celebrate the many manifestations family and to challenge some of the limited ways we've thought about it.

Join us every Monday and Thursday on our website and social media platforms where a new amazing family from those who submitted will be featured.

news, press, Typical American Families

Emory Report Feature: Photo project seeks Typical American Families

SCREEN SHOT from EMORY NEWS CENTER:    Carlton Mackey, shown here with his wife, Kari, and son, Isaiah, says the photo project is "all about celebrating a spectrum of identity and family makeup in American families — and there is a spectrum in this country, just as there is within my own family." Photo by Loni Schick

SCREEN SHOT from EMORY NEWS CENTER:  Carlton Mackey, shown here with his wife, Kari, and son, Isaiah, says the photo project is "all about celebrating a spectrum of identity and family makeup in American families — and there is a spectrum in this country, just as there is within my own family." Photo by Loni Schick

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | Dec. 9, 2014

A community photography project created by Carlton Mackey, director of Emory's Ethics and the Arts Program, to celebrate the spectrum of differences within modern American families has been awarded a 2014-2015 "Ideas Challenge Grant" by One Region Atlanta.

"Typical American Families" is an online platform exploring a wider view of American families through photographic images.

This month, Mackey's project was among four applicants selected to receive an Ideas Challenge grant award from One Region Atlanta, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

In their application, Mackey and his creative partner, international photographer/photoculturalist Ross Oscar Knight, proposed utilizing their "Typical American Family" platform to help bridge faith and culture in Atlanta by creating a traveling photo exhibit.

The $2,500 grant will be used to offer free family portrait sessions with Knight to about 15 Atlanta families. Copies of those photographs will be given to each family and will also be displayed through a traveling exhibit, which will be unveiled in spring 2015 in a ceremony and public gathering at Emory's Center for Ethics.

READ COMPLETE Emory Report Story Here


press, news

Emory University Students Gather to Proclaim Black Lives Matter

Candler School of Theology and Emory University students, faculty, and staff host 'die in' protest joining 1000's of others across the country in the proclamation that "Black Lives Matter." Photos by Beautiful In Every Shade creator Carlton Mackey.

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ is a grassroots empowerment campaign that believes in the beauty found in every human being. Our goal is to showcase, celebrate, and affirm the depth and breadth of that beauty. We seek to offer everyday people from around the world a chance to see themselves and others in a way that many never have before.

The phrase, "Beautiful Struggle", originated in a famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam":

We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.

press, Typical American Families, news, community dialogue, 50 Shades of Black

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Creator takes Emory Alumni Back to Class in San Francisco

CLICK To Enlarge | More Info and Registration At: 

Event title:   Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco

Event date:   November 15, 2014 9:30 AM  -  3:15 PM PT

Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco - Union Square 
55 Cyril Magnin St. 
San Francisco, CA 94102
 P: 415.392.8000


The coolest thing about being an adult is that you can learn about anything that interests you. There are no core classes or tests to worry about, no homework or deadlines - just insatiable curiosity about new subjects and current issues.

Emory is bringing its brightest and best scholars and faculty leaders to Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco - Union Square with our "Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco" event. 

Faculty Speakers: 


Carlton Mackey 05T

Creator of Beautiful In Every Shade

Assistant Director of the D. Abbott Turner 
Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership
Emory University Center for Ethics

Beautiful in Every Shade: Looking at You, Discovering Me

In this engaging session, Carlton Mackey 05T will discuss how his idea to post an illustration he designed onto the internet evolved into a global dialogue about skin tone, sexuality, beauty, and the changing face of the "typical" American family. With striking images, candid stories from people all over the world, and reflections from Mackey's own narrative that began right here in San Francisco, this session will challenge you to think critically about self-identity, how it is formed, and how a deep dive into one's self may lead to startling revelations about one's connection to others.

Elena Conis

Associate Professor of History
Emory College of Arts and Science

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Vaccines and vaccination were once considered crowning achievements of modern medicine and public health, but in recent years they’ve become highly controversial. More and more parents stand accused of under-vaccinating their children and believing in vaccine conspiracy theories. Medical experts lament the rise of diseases previously well-controlled by vaccines, such as measles and whooping cough. This presentation uncovers the true origins of contemporary vaccine worries and reveals the real reasons why vaccination is such a contentious issue in modern times.

Peter Roberts

Professor of Organization & Management
Goizueta Business School

Accelerating Micro-Entrepreneurs in Low-Income Communities

Micro-entrepreneurs establish very small businesses that support themselves and their families, while collectively supplying a range of products and services, along with a sense of purpose and vitality to local economies. They also face serious challenges in low-income communities. Professor Roberts discusses why he believes that (1) it is critically important to cultivate microbusinesses in low-income communities; (2) there are promising micro-entrepreneurs living in these communities; and (3) we can indeed influence the business knowledge, networks and capital that that these micro-entrepreneurs need to succeed.

Doug Shipman 95C


Doug Shipman 95C, president of the Emory Alumni Board, is the CEO of the new Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, prior to which he was a global consultant for Boston Consulting Group. Recognized by the press for his expertise and community contributions, Doug is frequently called upon to guest lecture at universities and provide insight to global institutions. With a longstanding commitment to service, Doug continues to take the lead in many philanthropic ventures and guide conversations about civil and human rights.

Diogo Anyigbo 10C 15M 15PH

Student Speaker

Chidiogo “Diogo” Anyigbo 10C, 15M, 15PH is a dual degree student who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Houston, TX. A member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, she graduated from Emory College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology. Diogo serves as the president of the Emory Pipeline Program, an interdisciplinary mentorship and health science education program for disadvantaged high school students.

Back to Class: Emory in San Francisco
Host Committee

Olivia Jovais 10C
Sahiti Karempudi 05Ox 07C
Nicolai Lundy 09C
Robin Norvell 02C
Emma Rosenbluth 07C
Lori Schectel 96C
Farae Strickland 98C

international initiatives, news

Emory University Sickle Cell Research Advocate Captures BEAUTY IN EVERY SHADE in Brazil

Academic, professional, and academic curator Melissa Creary

Academic, professional, and academic curator Melissa Creary

Melissa Creary, Boren Fellow  and PhD Candidate at the Institute of Liberal Arts, Emory University wrapped up her recent research assignment in Brazil spreading the message of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE.  

My last day in Brazil was full. A final interview, last minute errands, and a meet up with my friend Dara Braddock, a writer, chef, and educator supreme who was in town to visit. I gave her a Beautiful In Every Shade Tee because as an educator she recognizes how important the movement is and then this happened. I think she attracted this amazing moment into being. You can’t describe the concept of this shirt more beautifully, than a school bus of Brazilian children (of every shade and hue) who just happen to be on a field trip to the beach and are, of course, in love with the camera and Miss Braddock. Beautiful indeed.
— Melissa Creary
Dara Braddock with Brazilian school children are BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE.  Photo by Melissa Creary

Dara Braddock with Brazilian school children are BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE.  Photo by Melissa Creary


Creary's research area is in the social, cultural, ethical, political and historic tensions in sickle cell disease (SCD) in both the United States and Brazil.  Creary is also an avid photographer (Moments in Macro Photography) and special collaborator with 50 Shades of Black.  More information at

news, press, signature apparel, international initiatives

T-Shirt Sparks Global Conversation

Emory University Center for Ethics reports on the International growth of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE with KNIGHT's influence

Emory University Center for Ethics reports on the International growth of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE with KNIGHT's influence

It began with a black T-shirt and a powerful phrase: “Beautiful in Every Shade”. The shirt is part of a grassroots empowerment campaign and international brand founded by Carlton Mackey, Director of the Ethics and the Arts Program here at the Center for Ethics. Knight has been actively involved in Beautiful in Every Shade since 2012 and works alongside Mackey as the project’s Director of International Initiatives.

His wearing the symbolic shirt while in Rwanda welcomed opportunities for thought-provoking dialogue on color complex discrimination and identity, a topic all too familiar to the African-American artist. Maja Ladić had been taking Knight on a tour of the Nyamirambo Women’s Center when their discussion first began. Ladić is a coordinator of various development projects like this local women’s center in Rwanda for the Mirovni inštitut (or Peace Institute).

by Kimberly Johnson


news, community dialogue

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Holds Diversity Conversation in Slovenia

WE ARE BEAUTIFUL - Knight poses with group after 2 hour diversity conversation in Sovenia's capital city.

WE ARE BEAUTIFUL - Knight poses with group after 2 hour diversity conversation in Sovenia's capital city.

Ross Oscar Knight, Director of International Initiatives for BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE just completed a 2 hour roundtable with a diverse group of intellectuals in the capital of Slovenia - Ljubljani.

The group discussed Shade-ism and what it means to them to be BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE.

"It was fascinating to hear their perspectives not only about Slovenia but also about Mali, Zimbabwe, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Italy, UK and more," Knight said.
Several statements really stood out during our recorded session:

  • "The first itme I saw a black person I was 14 years old. I took a picture of him and I put it on my wall. It is still on my wall."
  • "Slovenia is my motherland but I am more comforatble outside of it."
  • "My family taught me when I was younger that blackness is ugly."

 More to come about this developing story

news, open photo shoot, press

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE to participate in 2014 artDBF - AJC Decatur Book Festival

In 2013, AJCDBF launched art|DBF, an arts and culture showcase within the AJC Decatur Book Festival. art|DBF recognizes that a vibrant, creative, and economically thriving community can be achieved by elevating the visibility of the arts—literary, visual, and performing; increasing accessibility, public involvement, and attendance; and working to ensure the long-term sustainability of arts organizations.

art|DBF celebrates that storytelling, the sharing of new ideas, the creation of characters, and the transportation of audiences to places both real and imagined happens in the pages of a book, but also in the museum, on the stage, in film and video, in the studio, in the concert hall, on public streets and on the walls of buildings, and everywhere else you find artists and creators working.

In 2014, art|DBF will once again present a diverse group of artists and arts organizations who will actively engage our imaginations through stories, artist talks, installations, film, visual art, photography, and musical, dance and theatrical performances, in order to connect our citizens with the arts and cultural opportunities in Decatur and throughout Atlanta.

More info at


press, news, open photo shoot

EMORY Report: Shades of Beauty-From Dialogue to Movement

Screen capture of Emory Report (Emory University) Headline Coverage of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

Screen capture of Emory Report (Emory University) Headline Coverage of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

What began for Carlton Mackey as a photographic exploration of race, skin tone, sexuality, beauty, and identity is growing into something bigger — a movement that may be expanding in international directions.

In the past year, Mackey broadened the project, inviting the public to attend a series of open photo shoots images meant to celebrate beauty in all its forms. Some 400 photographs later, the images have become a catalyst for "Beautiful In Every Shade" (BIES), what he refers to as the project's "signature empowerment campaign" dedicated to affirming and spreading beauty.