Famed civil rights leader and broadcast pioneer joins the Board of Trustees of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
Dr Xernona Clayton, civil rights leader, broadcaster and the founder, president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, which holds a prestigious event each year highlighting primarily African American accomplishments, has joined the board of trustees of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Dr. Susan Kelly, CDU's President and CEO, announced the new appointment at a reception–attended also by basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson-following last week's board meeting, Dr. Clayton's first.
"Xernona Clayton got her start in the midst of the civil rights struggle and went on to be a pioneer in broadcasting," Dr. Kelly said. "She is a model of courage and accomplishment and we are so fortunate to have her with us."
In the mid 1960s, Xernona Clayton began organizing events for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where she worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and later with Coretta Scott King. In 1965, organizing half a dozen of Atlanta's Black doctors, she prevailed on President Lyndon Johnson to desegregate hospitals across the nation.
In 1968, she became the first African American female in the South to host a daily prime time talk show which eventually became known as the Xernona Clayton Show-a regular feature on WAGA-TV, CBS affiliate in Atlanta.
By 1988, as corporate vice president for Urban Affairs with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. she was directing internal and external projects for the corporation and serving as liaison with civic groups in Atlanta and across the country. At one stage, Xernona Clayton was the highest-ranking female executive and African American in Turner Broadcasting System
Five years later, she launched the Trumpet Awards with Turner Broadcasting. Since then, the award show has been televised annually and distributed internationally to over 185 countries around the world. Recent honorees have included such notables as Dr. Keith Black, actor Danny Glover, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Los Angeles Sentinel publisher Danny J. Bakewell, Sr.
Over the years, Dr Xernona Clayton has received numerous honors. In recognition to her contributions to broadcasting, The American Intercultural Student Exchange created a scholarship in her honor, allowing a student to spend a year living abroad with a European family, all expenses paid. She has received numerous awards, including the first Coretta Scott King Award from the SCLC.
In 2004, she was honored by Spelman College with the first Local Community Service Award and the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity presented her with the Leadership and Dedication in Civil Rights.
Xernona Clayton is married to Judge Paul L. Brady. She is a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. In 1991, she published an autobiography, "I've Been Marching All the Time."
On taking up her new role on the Board of Charles Drew University, she said, "I need another commitment like a hole in the head. But what is more important than health? I came here at the urging of President Kelly to help the growth of this institution that is vital to improving the nation's health."
CDU is a private nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated over 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals. The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S. CDU is recognized as a leader in health inequities and translational research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. The University is among the top 7% of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded institutions and rated one of the top 50 private universities in research in the U.S. Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the "best performer" in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians. For more information, visit http://www.cdrewu.edu.