Civil Rights Leader to Speak at MLK Day Observance
Jan. 12, 2009
A talk by Xernona Clayton, founder of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, an organization that annually recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of top African Americans, highlights this year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center and a host of student organizations are sponsoring Clayton’s talk as part of the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, which is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday in the Student Union Galaxy Room (SU 2.602).
All guest seats had been reserved as of Tuesday, Jan. 13.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “He Had a Dream.”
An ardent supporter of racial understanding, Clayton has been a leader in civic projects and civil rights activities for many years.
In 1965, she moved to Atlanta to accept a position with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr. King.
In the late 1960s, she coordinated the activities of Atlanta’s black doctors in a project called Doctors’ Committee for Implementation, which resulted in the desegregation of all hospitals in Atlanta. The project served as a model for other states and was later recognized by the National Medical Association for its impact.
Her persistent fight against prejudice and bigotry was never more apparent than in 1968 when the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan denounced the Klan and credited Clayton for influencing his change.
Highly regarded in the broadcasting industry, Clayton began her television career in 1967 and became the South’s first black person to have her own television program. The Xernona Clayton Show was a regular feature on WAGA-TV in Atlanta.
Clayton went on to work at Turner Broadcasting for nearly 30 years. In 1988, she was appointed corporate vice president for urban affairs with Turner, where she directed internal and external projects for the corporation and served as liaison between Turner and civic groups in Atlanta and across the country.
Clayton is the founder, president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc. and is the creator and executive producer of the Foundation’s Trumpet Awards, which are televised annually and distributed internationally to more than 185 countries around the world.
New this year, a UT Dallas faculty member will be recognized for efforts to support diversity awareness throughout campus and beyond. Two local corporations also will be honored with Diversity Partner Awards for their efforts to support diversity in the community.
Jan. 15 is King’s birthday. The MLK holiday for staff and students will be observed Jan. 19, the same day as the federal holiday.