A living legend and one of Atlanta’s most beloved women, Xernona Clayton recently celebrated her 90th birthday on Zoom, with her closest friends, comprised of many notable names.

While Clayton’s actual birthday is on Aug. 30, plans for a gala celebration in her honor, along with many other activities over a period of several days, were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An upstanding Atlanta resident, Clayton is revered as a Civil Rights leader and activist, and philanthropist. She was the first black woman to have a prime-time TV show in the South “The Xernona Clayton Show” and founded The Trumpet Awards in 1993, to recognize the accomplishments of African Americans.

For the virtual affair, Clayton and her husband Judge Paul L. Brady, resumed their quarantined in their home, while virtual guests displayed their love of her by wearing her favorite color red and sending flowers to her home. 

 “We are going to have to go and stay with friends (because) we have so many flowers at our home,” said Clayton in response to all of the flowers that flooded her home. Many sent 90 flowers at once to celebrate each year of her life. 

Over 120 well-wishes joined Clayton and her husband, during the Zoom celebration, including actor Louis Gossett Jr, Michael Misick Islands of Turks & Caicos, actor Chris Tucker, Ga. Rep. Calvin Smyre, Dr. Barbara King, Ambassador Andrew and Carolyn Young, singer Tyrese Gibson, rapper T.I., comedian Jonathan Slocumb, and the son of her late twin sister Xenobia, Bradford Smith and his family.

While on Zoom, Clayton received praised from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a friend of hers for over 60 years. 

“Your presence here today means so much to me,” Clayton said to Jackson. “We have been together for so long. You complete my celebration. I love you dearly, pray for you often and respect you forever, she gushed.

Additionally, she viewed several videos with messages from former President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, Ted Turner her former boss at TBS; Glenda Baskin Glover, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha International and Tennessee State University; Democratic Vice President Nominee Kamala Harris; Bishop T. D. Jakes; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; George French Jr., president of Clark Atlanta University; and Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

In honor of Clayton, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore declared Sunday, August 30, her actual birthday, Xernona Clayton Day in the City of Atlanta. Moore was joined by Councilmembers Marci Overstreet, Michael Bond, Andre Dickens, Matt Westmoreland, and Andrea Boone.

Instead of receiving gifts, Clayton asked that many of her friends make donations in her name toward providing free housing for a year for a family in need. 

For anyone who would like to join in, contributions should be sent in care of Ms. Xernona Clayton, Xernona Clayton Foundation, 101 Marietta St. Suite 1010, Atlanta, Ga 30303. 

All checks should be made Make payable to the Xernona Clayton Foundation and contributions can be made through Cash App: XCFund or via Paypal: paypal.me/XernonaClaytonFound.

(Photo: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

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