Trumpet Awards founder aims to inspire

More than two decades ago, Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton received congratulations yet concern following the inaugural event. With so much talent being lauded, she was warned that future events might have a hard time rounding up honorees.

“At the rate you’re going, we’re going to run out pretty soon,” someone told her.

As if.

“Our problem is trying to decide how to come up with eight or nine folks” to honor each year, selecting from the vast and growing pool of talent, she said. “I’m hoping that through this program, we can continue to inspire young people to do better, to make their moments count, to make their future bright, to instill in them the need to be somebody.”

The 23rd annual Trumpet Awards, hosted by boxing champ Laila Ali and "The Biggest Loser" trainer Dolvett Quince, is planned for 4 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Red carpet arrivals start at 2 p.m., and the event will air Feb. 21 on TV One. For ticket information and other details, see

Created to celebrate and honor African-American achievers and those who support the African-American experience, the annual event salutes accomplishments in law, medicine, business, politics, the arts, civil rights, sports, entrepreneurship, entertainment and other fields.

Honorees this year are actor Jamie Foxx, recording artist Janelle Monae, designer Tommy Hilfiger, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold W. Donald, recording artists/songwriters the Isley Brothers, Morehouse School of Medicine President and Dean Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Sunshine Holdings Chairman Franklin R. Wilson.

“We’ve been left out of the history books as black Americans,” Clayton said. “We are so proud of what we’re doing to illuminate. I feel a buoyancy. I get excited over people’s contributions. My enthusiasm comes because I know I’m involved in something that’s going to inspire folks.”

Born into a segregated society, she is hopeful about the progress she has witnessed but unrelenting in her quest for more change.

“When we look at our history, the days have gotten better,” she said. “We’re not where we want to be. It may not change tonight. Tomorrow may be another day. We’re going to keep inspiring. We’re going to keep educating. We’ve got to keep fueling the fire with the burning desire to do better.”

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