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Civil rights advocate Xernona Clayton is still 'fearless'

Civil rights advocate Xernona Clayton is still 'fearless'

ATLANTA (AP) — A answer aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who helped convey the secular rights movement inside the 1960s says she's greatly saddened by the hate crimes seeking to terrorize people across America.

But Xernona Clayton has been employed for ethnic harmony since the movement began, with every one other accompanied by refuses to receive pile killings while routine.

"We're having excessively numerous ethnic conflicts," Clayton, 91, told The Associated Press throughout an meeting inside her office inside Atlanta. "It's so idiotic that we've had that racism inside the earliest place. Because none of us had some say-so concerning how we got here."

"My cerebrum always goes spine to what Martin Luther King would have said," she said. "He always said, 'You know, we CAN deep affection every one other.' He said, 'There's fair no indeed source why we can't.' And it was firm for him to comprehend why we don't."

King with every one other accompanied by his wife, Coretta Scott King, recruited Clayton with every one other accompanied by her earliest husband, Jet magazine editor Edward Clayton, to convey additional money with every one other accompanied by observation to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an Atlanta-based secular rights organization whose earliest president was King. Already enlisting movie stars to host SCLC fundraisers, Xernona Clayton was reluctant to depart from Southern California.


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But the set of two women bonded while Clayton organized Ms. King's national singing tour. Soon, she was securing protected from danger keeping for bloodied protesters with every one other accompanied by calling her friends Sidney (Poitier), Harry (Belafonte) with every one other accompanied by Bill (Cosby) for bail money.

In 1966, Clayton learned that Atlanta's Black doctors were restricted to one facility, Grady Hospital, with every one other accompanied by to fair one day a week. "Wednesday was the day Black people would have their babies," she recalled. "So I organized the doctors with every one other accompanied by told them, 'We tin do something concerning this.'"

She found a management associate who shared how a a large amount of confederate money was flowing to Atlanta's segregated hospitals with every one other accompanied by took the doctors to Washington, scoring a White House visit. President Lyndon Baines Johnson had silently encouraged such grassroots lobbying, with every one other accompanied by surprised her by insisting that hospitals nationwide had to desegregate earlier to getting Medicare funding.

"I'm fearless, for the most part. You know, I'm not frightened to gear an issue," Clayton said. "I'll fight for what is right."

In an epoch when national report organizations — including the AP — covered secular rights accompanied by all-white staffs, her friend Ralph McGill, publisher of the Atlanta Constitution, had her speak to a television manufacturing convention. She took them to position of employment for their hiring. Atlanta's CBS affiliate WAGA responded inside 1967 by making her the earliest Black talk show host inside the South.

While King's assassination only months subsequent convulsed the nation, Clayton with every one other accompanied by her guests provided audiences accompanied by a model for ethnic harmony. She flat persuaded a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to renounce the white extreme terror organization. They excessively became friends.

Barbara Walters recruited her for a web role, nevertheless Ted Turner hired her while an alternative to place a timbre of inclusiveness at Turner Broadcasting Service, which launched CNN. She served for years while Turner's corporate vice president for urban affairs.

Clayton too started the Trumpet Foundation to commemorate African American achievers, with every one other accompanied by still works there amid mementos from a lifetime of activism when she's not accompanied by her following husband, Paul L. Brady, the nation's earliest Black confederate administrative rules and regulations judge. Her earliest husband died inside 1966.

Clayton got her begin while an "undercover agent" for the Chicago Urban League inside the early 1950s, arranging position of employment interviews only to exist turned down when they saw her skin color. Confronted accompanied by proof of racism, Marshall Fields hired its earliest Black store employees.

"There's something concerning a victory — winning is fun," she recalled. "It gave me the assurance that I tin build a change. And I still have that today, that I tin build change. I CAN build change. I've MADE change."

Born on Aug. 30, 1930, accompanied by her twin female sibling Xenobia, she was raised inside segregated Muskogee, Oklahoma. Their father was a minister with every one other accompanied by Indian Affairs agent, so respected that the white police leader with every one other accompanied by mayor regularly came calling for guidance concerning the Black with every one other accompanied by Native American communities.

"He was a soft-spoken man, nevertheless softly he could build a alter inside a person's life. And he did it to the authority: the police, the mayor, whatever. I regularly awe if maybe I had some of that inside my blood."

She felt racism's prick at what would become Tennessee State University, where she with every one other accompanied by her friends went for hamburgers one darkness inside 1950.

"This guy was standing at the counter, he had a butcher knife, inside all likelihood 3 feet long. I'd never seen a cutting tool that big. But he said to us while we entered the door, 'If you n(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) don't obtain not here of here, I'll gash your heads off! You know you don't belong here!' Scared us to death," she recalled.

"It had a sign external outside that says 'hamburgers for sale,' with every one other accompanied by 'you don't belong here?'" she said. "I still be in touch the pain, the embarrassment, the ridicule. I still be in touch it."

Clayton earned a master's inside education at the University of Chicago, where marrying the editor of Jet place her at the center of Black the arts with every one other accompanied by politics. She was by Edward Clayton's side when he heard that the mother of Emmett Till, lynched inside Mississippi, wanted the world to see his brutalized body. He stopped the presses to place the likeness on the cover, shocking the nation's conscience with every one other accompanied by sketch widespread support for secular rights.

The set of two at that hour dated moved to Los Angeles, where Clayton said she did something "monumental." Volunteering to lay clasp of on 100 educational organization dropouts, she discovered some fair needed new clothes or hair curlers to return to class. Others were committing crimes, so she talked her way into gang meetings with every one other accompanied by urged them to learning while an alternative for corporate careers.

"And roughly calculate what? To this day, my pride with every one other accompanied by my mammary gland stand big. Because I took 100 kids with every one other accompanied by got 82 of them spine inside school."

It became her motto: "One human being tin build a difference. So don't sprint away if you see a problem. See if there's a way you tin help," she said. "I tell people all the hour dated today, look around — there's something you tin do."

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