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Civil Rights activist shares leadership advice with students

September 20, 2013

Civil-Rights-speakerThe woman who helped Ted Turner nearly succeed in a hostile takeover of CBS in the 1980s encouraged Stephens students yesterday to be fearless, courageous and, most importantly, active.
“Do something,” Civil Rights leader Xernona Clayton said. “You’ve heard ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?' I say if it ain’t broke, break it so you’ll have something to do.”
This was the second time Clayton has visited Stephens this year. She was also on campus in January to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Clayton served as a close advisor to King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.
During yesterday’s presentation, “The Power of One,” Clayton talked about how one individual has the ability to spark change.
Clayton worked as an assistant corporate vice president for Turner Broadcasting when she was tapped to help Turner in his bid for CBS ownership. She remembers traveling the country finding groups of viewers tohelp the company make its case.
“I took on the leadership role fearlessly because Ted Turner thought I could,” she said. “He had faith in my ability. When people believe in you, make it happen.”
Clayton's resumé is full of examples of her leadership abilities. She was the first black woman to have her own television show in the South, formed a friendship with a former KKK leader and led agroup of black doctors to Washington, D.C. to petition President Lyndon Johnson to desegregate hospitals in Atlanta. 

“People ask ‘When will we get another Martin Luther King?’” Clayton said during her hour-long address in Firestone Baars Chapel. “I say ‘What about you?’ If Martin Luther King had waited for someone else to do what he did, we would not have come as far. Leadership is simple. It’s ‘I will do something about whatever it is that’s a thorn in my side.’ You get up and do it.” 

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