A Brilliant Force: Remembering Claudine K. Brown

By Carlton Turner, Alternate ROOTS Executive Director

Claudine K. Brown was an amazing example of all that I strive to be: humble, creative, fierce, generous, funny, loving, and encouraging.

I met Claudine K. Brown very early in my time at Alternate ROOTS. At that time, she was a program officer at the Nathan Cummings Foundation and one of a very small number of major funders for ROOTS. She saw the potential impact that ROOTS could have on the field of arts, culture, and social justice if given room and support to grow. She was a strong advocate for Southern artists and for the development of young leaders of color. I can remember her pushing me out of my comfort zone more than once. ROOTS would not be where we are today without her advocacy and support.

Claudine’s brand of support was unique in the field of philanthropy. She was as straightforward as they come, but also extremely sophisticated in developing strategies that would open up resources without handcuffing the organization or pushing them towards mission drift. She was a brilliant force capable of bringing out the best in us, even on our worst days.

I treasure every moment I was able to spend in her presence, watching her command a room and infuse challenge, insight, and hope into every occasion. Her grace and compassion was beyond reproach and left everyone that she encountered with a sense of purpose.

She was a mentor, friend, and cheerleader. I am so blessed to have had an opportunity to know her and to learn from her. Those of us working at the intersection of art and social justice are forever in her debt. She will be missed, but she has left a little of her imprint on so many of us.

Thank you Claudine. May you be as outrageously amazing in your next journey as you were in this one.

Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.