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Xernona Clayton

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Information about Xernona Clayton

Profile image of Xernona Clayton

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive
Broadcast Executive
Television Host

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Grapes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Nevada, Bahamas, Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
If You Can't Change People Around You, Change The People Around You.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1930
Birth Location:
Muskogee, Oklahoma

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive
Broadcast Executive
Television Host

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Grapes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Nevada, Bahamas, Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
If You Can't Change People Around You, Change The People Around You.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1930
Birth Location:
Muskogee
See how Xernona Clayton is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Broadcast executive, foundation chief executive, nonprofit executive, television host, and television producer Xernona Clayton and her twin sister, Xenobia, were born August 30, 1930 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Clayton’s parents, Reverend James M. and Lillie Brewster, were actively engaged in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee. In 1952, Clayton earned her B.A. degree from Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College, now Tennessee State University. She later earned a scholarship and pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago. In 1957, Clayton married noted journalist and civil rights activist Edward Clayton, who died in 1966. She later married jurist Paul L. Brady, the first African American appointed as a Federal Administrative Law judge.

Clayton's civic involvement and participation in the Civil Rights Movement was informed by the Chicago Urban League, in which she worked to investigate discrimination in employment. As an activist, Clayton was instrumental in coordinating activities for the Doctor's Committee for Implementation project, which culminated with the desegregation of hospital facilities in Atlanta, Georgia. Clayton also worked closely with Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to organize fundraising initiatives for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). By the mid-1960s, Clayton was writing for the Atlanta Voice, and in 1968, she became the first black woman in the South to host a regularly scheduled prime-time talk show, Variations, which became The Xernona Clayton Show on WAGA-TV in Atlanta. Her guests included Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. Later that year, Clayton successfully convinced the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to renounce the Klan. In 1982, Clayton began her long standing and impressive career with Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). At TBS, she assumed many roles throughout the years, including producing documentaries, hosting a public affairs program entitled Open Upand serving as director and vice-president of public affairs in the early 1980s. Ted Turner, founder of TBS, promoted Clayton to assistant corporate vice-president for urban affairs in 1988. In 1993, Clayton created the Trumpet Awards for Turner Broadcasting to honor African American achievements. The program is seen in over 185 countries.

As Governor of Georgia, former President Jimmy Carter appointed Clayton to the State Motion Picture and Television Commission. She is a member of the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences, the National Urban League, among other civic and professional organizations. Clayton is also a board member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and served as chairman of the Atlanta University Board of Trustees. The recipient of numerous accolades, Clayton received the Leadership and Dedication to Civil Rights Award and the Drum Major for Justice Award from SCLC in 2004. In her honor, the Atlanta Chapter of the Association of Black Journalists established the Xernona Clayton Scholarship. Clayton’s autobiography, I’ve Been Marching All the Time was published in 1991.

Xernona Clayton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2005.

See how Xernona Clayton is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Xernona Clayton's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her childhood home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton talks about her mother's paternal background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton relates lessons from her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recounts how her parents met in Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Xernona Clayton recalls her father's leadership in the Baptist church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton remembers her father's work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls her father's humbling response to public praise of Clayton and her twin sister
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls growing up as an identical twin, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton recalls growing up as an identical twin, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton describes Dunbar Elementary School in Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton recalls her favorite teachers and classes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of Xernona Clayton's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton talks about her educational foundation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton remembers Manual Training High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton talks about being a twin
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her father's role in Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes her adolescent career aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton recalls her decision to attend Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton recalls being named the smartest girl in her class at Manual Training High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recalls matriculating at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Xernona Clayton considers how her childhood influenced her activism, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Xernona Clayton considers how her childhood influenced her activism, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton recalls her collegiate extracurricular activities, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls her collegiate extracurricular activities, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls being sheltered from discrimination during college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton recalls participating in a University of Wisconsin twin study
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton recalls studying with her twin at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes her approach to learning
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton explains her decision to attend the University of Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton reflects upon the impact of her father's lessons on humility
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recalls how she became involved with the Chicago Urban League
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton describes her initial work with the Chicago Urban League in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton talks about the Chicago Urban League's position on labor integration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls chairing the most successful Chicago Urban League charity dinner
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton remembers deciding to leave graduate school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton talks about meeting her husband, Edward Clayton
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton recalls her involvement in Chicago's South Side society
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton recalls teaching a prominent Chicago businessman to read and write
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton reflects upon her legacy as an elementary school teacher in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton explains how she began working for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.