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Trumpet Awards Founder and President Xernona Clayton to Keynote 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Kick-off at Harris-Stowe

News         Harris-Stowe State University

For Immediate Release                                               
                                                      Contact:   Courtney McCall
                                                                      (314) 340-3391

 Trumpet Awards Founder and President Xernona Clayton to Keynote 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Kick-off at Harris-Stowe

ST. LOUIS, MO (December 9, 2012) – The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri will host its 27th annual kick-off program on Saturday, January 12, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. Harris-Stowe State University’s Main Auditorium. Founder, president, CEO and executive producer of the Trumpet Awards Foundation Xernona Clayton will serve as the keynote speaker for the event, which is themed, “Women Who Dare to Dream.”

Established in 1993 by Turner Broadcasting, The Trumpet Awards is a prestigious event highlighting African American accomplishments and contributions. It has been televised annually and distributed internationally to more than 185 countries around the world. Xernona Clayton was employed at Turner Broadcasting for nearly 30 years where she served as a corporate executive and was one of the highest-ranking female employees at the company. In 1988, Clayton was appointed corporate vice president for urban affairs with Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a capacity in which she directed internal and external projects for the corporation and served as liaison between Turner Broadcasting (TBS SuperStation, CNN, Headline News, TNT, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks) and civic groups in Atlanta and throughout the country.

She moved to Atlanta in 1965 where she accepted a position with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Clayton also traveled extensively with Mrs. Coretta Scott King on her nationwide concert tours. Dedicated to promoting racial understanding, Clayton has been a leader in civic projects and civil rights activities for several years. In 1966, she coordinated the activities of Atlanta’s Black doctors in a project called Doctors’ Committee for Implementation, which resulted in the desegregation of all hospital facilities in Atlanta. This project served as a model and a pilot for other states throughout the country and received national honor from the National Medical Association for its impact. 

Clayton began her television career in 1967 and became the South’s first Black person to have her own television show. “The Xernona Clayton Show” was a regular feature on WAGA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta. Her persistent fight against individuals and organizations perpetuating 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’s influence with his change. 

Her dedication to the community is reflected in the many hours she spends promoting human relations through bi-racial groups devoted to improving racial understanding, and because of her contributions to humanity, she is the recipient of numerous media awards and included in various publications.

“The Peaceful Warrior” a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. authored by her late husband Ed Clayton and co-authored by Xernona in the revised editions, has been published in several languages. Xernona Clayton’s autobiography, “I’ve Been Marching All the Time,” was published in 1991.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri, Mrs. Constance Gully, chairwoman, is comprised of 20 individuals representing various areas within the state, including Cape Girardeau (vacant), Columbia, Fulton, Jefferson City (vacant), Kansas City, Kirksville, Lee’s Summit, Springfield and St. Louis. The state celebration kick-off program serves as the first MLK-related event to be held in Missouri. Throughout the year, the commission meets regularly to plan their own respective events geared toward preserving Dr. King’s legacy, as well as the program held each year at HSSU.

Harris-Stowe State University, located in midtown St. Louis, is a four-year institution that offers 14 degree programs in the areas of Accounting, Business Administration, Biology, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Health Care Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management, Information Sciences and Computer Technology, Mathematics, Middle School Education, Professional Interdisciplinary Studies, Secondary Education and Urban Affairs. Ranked by U.S. News as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, the university, which has been in existence for more than 150 years, offers the most affordable bachelor’s degree in the state of Missouri.