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Artist Herschell C. Turner, former NBA and Harlem Globetrotter, is a Living Legend, a Renaissance man whose life has mirrored the eclectic images in his works of fine art. Turner developed a great talent for art at a young age. Throughout his works, one can find the African American experience, which is also the Herschell Turner experience. Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Turner experienced first-hand the Jim Crow racism of pre-civil rights America. His dedication to social justice and universal human rights led him to accept community leadership roles, especially ones dedicated to the betterment of neighborhood children. The famous painter, Thomas Hart Benton, had a great influence on Herschell. He met Benton when he was painting his mural, "Frontier" in the Harry S. Truman Museum in Independence, Missouri. Turner credits Benton with the inspiration for his own series of paintings on black cowboys. Turner's art reflects the beauty and dignity of the black experience as it relates to the broader American experience. Mr. Turner’s “Series of Black Cowboys-Kit” has been sold around the world as he toured with the Indiana Black Expo.
As well as being an extraordinary artist, Herschell Turner is a former professional athlete. His athletic career goes back to 1956 when he was recruited to play basketball at the University of Nebraska. He had more than 1,000 career points there and played against future basketball greats like Wilt Chamberlain. Afterwards, he played for several teams in the National Basketball Association and was inducted into several Halls of Fame: the University of Nebraska, State of Indiana and the Harlem Globetrotters. Mr. Turner played in the N.B.A./A.B.L./A.B.A./& C.B.L.-Eastern League and is noted as a Michigan Black Basketball Legend. He was MVP Shortridge High School (Indianapolis), All-Big Eight (University of Nebraska), All American (University of Nebraska), East/West All-Star Team, Olympic Trial Member-1960, Jack & Jill All-Star and Kappa All American-1958.
Herschell Turner came to Grand Rapids in 1963 and became a key activist in the Grand Rapids community. He rose to leadership in both black and white communities and served on the Grand Rapids Task Force during the pivotal time of the riots. He channeled his energy into doing something positive for the African-American community and was the director of the Baxter Community Center for 10 years, served as Art Director for Department of Correction, Ionia, Michigan for 14, an Instructor at the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology (WMCAT) for 4 years and has served on over 20 community boards. Mr. Turner’s Civic Awards include Key to the city (Indianapolis, Indiana), Man of the year (Grand Rapids Jaycees) County Commissioner (17th district), Comcast & McDonalds’ Pioneer Award, Outstanding Kappa Alpha Psi Award & the Kappa Alpha Psi Community Award. In 2016 the Mayor Rosalyn Bliss (Grand Rapids, MI) declared February 24th “Herschell Turner Day”
Herschell Turner is married to Julia Hudson Turner. They have two daughters Monique & Tonya Turner.