Esteemed dignitary Xernona Clayton is the quintessential embodiment of the teaching of the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with whom she worked for during the apex of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Her close relationship with the iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor and human rights advocate informed her of her political philosophy and duty to the masses of our people.

Therefore, when it was time for her to ring in her 91st birthday, Clayton did what is natural to her: she celebrated her born day by addressing the food insecurities experienced by others.

The coronavirus pandemic had spawned a tragic assortment of grave issues in 2020, including a nationwide health emergency, mass company shutdowns, widespread layoffs and food insecurities from coast to coast.

Many of these issues remain prevalent today.

Clayton and a cadre of her volunteers met with Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, the pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, and many of his church members, to help give out boxes of food to scores of families.

“I am so honored to bless others with funds made to my foundation in honor of my 90th birthday in 2020. The pandemic has devastated families all over the world and right here in our own community people still need the basics of food and essential items,” Clayton said.

“I am so grateful that God has blessed me to be a blessing to other and that we partnered with Pastor Jamal Bryant.”

Clayton’s foundation also donated $5,000 to the food donation center program at New Birth while indicating how gratifying it was to celebrate her birthday with others in person.

In 2020, Clayton was forced to bring in her birthday virtually with her husband, Judge Paul L. Brady.

However, the guest list for this online party included the likes of Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr., comedic actor Chris Tucker, Ambassador Andrew Young and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom Clayton has been friends with for more than 60 years.

Bryant and New Birth’s ministry, The King’s Table, have been working to help address local food insecurity faced by families in DeKalb County and surrounding areas since the dawn of the pandemic, in early 2020, that started with 300 families taking advantage of free food and other in-demand household items.

As COVID-19 peaked in the summer of 2020, New Birth saw a drastic rise in the thoe impacted by unemployment and money shortages. The mega-church now serves approximately 8,000 individuals each week.

“The pandemic has forced ministries to step outside the four walls of the church and re-engage with the community in a new and dynamic way,” said Pastor Bryant who has partnered with several organizations including DeKalb County Government, Cigna, and Diabetes Association of Atlanta to enhance the ongoing outreach effort.

“Lives are being changed and families are being nourished because of the love, support and generosity of our global community. We are blessed by the tremendous partnerships that have flourished during a storm.”

Bryant states that more than 560,000 individuals fed through this program with the need not tapering off despite the alleged inroads made to tame the global pandemic.

Civil Rights advocate Xernona Clayton spends her 91st birthday giving back with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and The Xernona Clayton Foundation (Photo Credit: Courtesy/The Xernona Clayton Foundation)

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