Ms. Xernona Clayton - A Life of Excellence Through Service

Throughout her life, Ms. Clayton has personified the motto “one person can make a difference”. This timeline will take you on a personal and inspiring exploration of her life and work, illustrating how one person with courage and vision can not only observe history - but make it.

1930s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s 




  Xernona Clayton and her twin sister, Xenobia, are born August 30 in Muskogee, OK to Reverend James and Elliot "Lillie" Brewster.  



  Xernona Clayton earns her undergraduate degree with honors from Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College (now known as Tennessee State University). She would go on to receive a scholarship to earn her master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago.  



  Xernona Clayton begins her career volunteering with the Chicago National Urban League, working undercover to investigate racial discrimination committed by employers against African Americans.  



  Xernona Clayton moves to Atlanta where she accepts a position as an event organizer with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and works closely with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During this time, she also travels extensively with Mrs. Coretta Scott King on her nationwide concert tours.  



  Xernona Clayton coordinates the activities of Atlanta’s Black doctors in a project called the Doctor’s Committee for Implementation. The committee resulted in the desegregation of all hospital facilities in Atlanta and served as a model and pilot program for other states; and it received a national honor from the National Medical Association.  



  Xernona Clayton begins her television career and becomes the South’s first Black person to have her own television show: The Xernona Clayton Show (initially titled Variations).  



  Xernona Clayton throws the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. his first surprise birthday party. He would be assassinated three months later on April 4, 1968.  



  The Grand Dragon of Ku Klux Klan, Calvin Craig, resigns from and renounces the the Klan on The Xernona Clayton Show and credits her for his change.    



  Xernona Clayton stars in the horror film The House on Skull Mountain; alongside Victor French, Janee Michelle, and Jean Durand.  



  Xernona Clayton joins Turner Broadcasting as a documentary producer. She would work for Turner for 30 years.  



  The Xernona Clayton Scholarship is founded. Each year, Ms. Clayton chooses one outstanding high school student to study abroad in Europe with a host family.  



  Xernona Clayton is appointed Corporate Vice President for Urban Affairs at Turner Broadcasting and becomes one of the highest-ranking female employees in the Turner Broadcasting system.  



  Xernona Clayton’s autobiography I’ve Been Marching All the Time is published.  



  Xernona Clayton founds the Trumpet Awards, an annual award show honoring African American achievement across all fields. The award show has been distributed internationally to over 185 countries. Previous honorees include Ambassador Andrew Young, Scripps National Spelling Bee winner Zaila Avant-garde, and Beyonce.  



  Xernona Clayton, Congressman Kweisi Mfume, and the late Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown are awarded the 1996 Distinguished Leadership Award by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, D.C.  



  Clark Atlanta University confers an honorary doctorate of letters degree to Xernona Clayton. She also holds honorary doctorates from Tennessee State University and Alcorn State University.  



  Xernona Clayton founds The Trumpet Awards Foundation.  



  Xernona Clayton creates The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame as a partnership between The National Park Service and The Trumpet Awards Foundation to recognize those who sacrificed and paved the way for racial equality. The Walk of Fame—located at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site—includes actual footstep impressions of Rosa Parks, Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressman John Lewis, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  



  Xernona Clayton is honored with the Local Community Service Award from Spelman College, the Leadership Dedication in Civil Rights Award from the Georgia Commission for Equal Opportunity, and the Drum Major of Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  



  The Mattel Toy Company releases a limited, special edition Barbie doll of Xernona Clayton.  



  Xernona Clayton works with Governor Sonny Perdue to have Mrs. Coretta Scott King be the first woman and Black person to lie in honor at the Georgia State Capitol.  



  Xernona Clayton’s footprints are added to the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.  



  The Xernona Clayton Foundation opens a school in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa, which educates hundreds of students from the Atwima-Heman Village, which is named after her.  



  Xernona Clayton becomes the first Black woman to have an Atlanta downtown street named after her, Xernona Clayton Way; and a park plaza is also dedicated in her name.  



  Originally published in 1964, a revised version of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s biography Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior is published. Xernona Clayton serves as co-author and editor of the revised edition, which has been published in several languages.  



  On International Women’s Day, Xernona Clayton is honored with a statue of herself in downtown Atlanta at the intersection of Xernona Clayton Way in Xernona Clayton Plaza, making her the first woman to be enshrined with a statue in downtown Atlanta.  



  Download "Xernona Clayton - The Podcast" wherever you get your podcasts. New Episodes Drop Every Monday.
Available to download on: Simple Cast | Apple | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Deezer




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