Xernona Clayton

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Xernona Clayton Brady
Born (1930-08-30) August 30, 1930 (age 90)
Muskogee, Oklahoma
Residence Atlanta, Georgia
Alma mater Tennessee State University
Occupation Broadcasting executive
Known for Civil rights activism
Spouse(s) Ed Clayton (deceased)
Paul L. Brady
Children 2

Xernona Clayton Brady (born August 30, 1930 in Muskogee, Oklahoma) is an American civil rights leader and broadcasting executive. During the African American Civil Rights Movement, she worked for the National Urban League and Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where she became involved in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clayton then went into television, where she became the first Southern African-American to host a daily prime time talk show. She became corporate vice president for urban affairs for Turner Broadcasting.

Clayton created the Trumpet Awards Foundation and International Civil Rights Walk of Fame to honor the achievements of African Americans and civil rights advocates. She convinced a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to denounce the Klan. Clayton has been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the city of Atlanta for her work.


Xernona and her twin sister Xenobia were the daughters of Reverend James and Elliott (Lillie) Brewster. Her parents were administrators of Indian affairs in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1952, Clayton earned her undergraduate degree with honors from Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College in Nashville, Tennessee. She majored in music and minored in education.[1] At TSU, Clayton became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[2] She is a Baptist.[3] She pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago.


Clayton began her career in the African American Civil Rights Movement with the National Urban League in Chicago, working undercover to investigate racial discrimination committed by employers against African Americans.[4] Clayton moved to Atlanta in 1965, where she organized events for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), under the direction of Martin Luther King. She developed a deep friendship with Dr. King's wife, Coretta Scott King.[4] Clayton and Scott King traveled together on concert tours. Though Clayton did not march with King, citing a fear of being arrested, Clayton helped plan King's marches.[1]

In 1966, Clayton coordinated the Doctors' Committee for Implementation, a group of African American doctors who worked for and achieved the desegregation of all Atlanta hospitals. The Doctors' Committee served as a model for nationwide hospital desegregation, and was honored by the National Medical Association.[2][5]

Clayton then headed the Atlanta Model Cities program, a federally funded group dedicated to improving the quality of desegregated neighborhoods. Clayton met Calvin Craig, the Grand Dragon of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan, through the Model Cities program, as Craig served in a policy position with the organization. Craig cited Clayton's influence when he decided to denounce the Klan in April 1968.[3]

In 1967, Clayton became the first Southern African American to host a daily prime time talk show.[4] The show was broadcast on WAGA-TV in Atlanta and was renamed The Xernona Clayton Show.[4] Clayton joined Turner Broadcasting in 1979 as a documentary specials producer.[6] In the 1980s, she served as director of public relations for Turner Broadcasting.[7] In 1988, Turner Broadcasting promoted Clayton to corporate vice president for urban affairs, assigning her to direct Turner projects and serve as a liaison between Turner Broadcasting and civic groups in Atlanta and throughout the country.[2] Clayton retired from Turner Broadcasting in 1997, choosing to term it a "professional transition".[6]

Clayton serves on the board of directors of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.[4] She served on the Board of Review for the state of Georgia's Department of Labor.[7] In 1991, she published an autobiography, I've Been Marching All The Time, a title inspired by King.[1] The book focused on her life and her views of the Civil Rights Movement.[8]

In 1993, Clayton, with Turner Broadcasting, created the Trumpet Awards to honor achievements of African Americans.[2][9] She serves as the Chair, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation which was formed in late 2004.[2][10] In early 2004, Clayton created the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.[11]


She was a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the pastor.[2]

Clayton was married to Ed Clayton (who also worked with Dr. King)[2] from 1957 until his death in 1966.

Following her first husband's death, she remarried to Paul L. Brady, the first African American to be appointed as a Federal Administrative Law Judge,[12] in 1974.[8] Brady and Clayton have two children from Brady's previous marriage:[9] Laura and Paul Jr.

Clayton also co-authored a revised edition of her late husband's biography of Martin Luther King Jr. called The Peaceful Warrior'.'


TSU honored Clayton at their Blue and White All-Star Academy Awards in 2005.[1] Clayton's footprints were added to the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2006.[5] On May 1, 2011, Clayton received the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[13] She received the Local Community Service Award from Spelman College in 2004.[14]

In September 2011, the Atlanta City Council renamed a street and park plaza at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Baker Street in downtown Atlanta in Clayton's honor.[15] The AFC Enterprises Foundation, in conjunction with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, award an annual Xernona Clayton Black Press Scholarship to a student pursuing a doctoral degree in journalism in the amount of $10,000.[16] The Mattel Toy Company created a "Xernona Clayton Barbie" doll in her honor in 2004.[1]


  • Clayton, Xernona; Gulliver, Hal (1991). I've Been Marching All The Time. Longview. ISBN 0929264878.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Malone, Janice (July 28, 2005). "TSU To Honor Media Pioneer Xernona Clayton". The Tennessee Tribune. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Monday, December 10, 2012 9:35 am (2012-12-10). "Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton to keynote MLK Kick Off – St. Louis American: Local News". Stlamerican.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr (April 24, 1998). "Calvin F. Craig, 64, Enigma In Klan and Civil Rights Work – New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "The Savannah Tribune Salutes Black History Month | www.savannahtribune.com". Savannah Tribune. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Xernona Clayton, Feted with a 75th Birthday Party Fit For A Queen". The Tennessee Tribune. September 22, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Xernona Clayton makes 'professional transition'; honored with gala tribute and toast in Atlanta". Jet. November 24, 1997. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Albany Herald – Google News Archive Search
  8. 8.0 8.1 "NewsBank for AJC | www.ajc.com". Nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Published: December 12, 1999 (1999-12-12). "WEDDINGS; Paul Sullivan and Laura Brady – New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Crider, Mary L. (2012-12-25). "Marshals Museum fundraising passes $10M mark". SFGate. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. The Tuscaloosa News – Google News Archive Search
  12. "Press Release 97-2, Judge Paul L. Brady Retires From Job Safety Commission". Oshrc.gov. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The Pasadena / San Gabrial Valley Journal News – Xernona Clayton Receives NAACP Honor :: African American News from your Black Newspapers The Pasadena / San Gabrial Valley Journal ::". Pasadenajournal.com. 2011-04-19. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Spelman honors Xernona Clayton". Jet. September 13, 2004. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)
  15. "Atlanta Honors Xernona Clayton With a Street and Park Plaza Designation | www.savannahtribune.com". Savannah Tribune. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2013-01-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "The AFC Foundation awards $10,000 NNPA Scholarship in honor of media pioneer Xernona Clayton". Chicago Defender. June 14, 2000. Retrieved January 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (subscription required)