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Tenth annual show is 'more than glitz'

The Trumpet Awards

Discussion / Activity

February 21, 2002 Posted: 5:45 PM EST (1950 GMT)

(CNN) -- Ten years ago, Xernona Clayton created the Trumpet Awards, a program dedicated to honoring African-American achievement in the arts, science and politics. Her goal was simple.

"I felt the need to broaden the understanding between the black and white races," said Clayton, a CNN Executive Producer, from her offices in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday. "We have to learn about each other before we can learn to love each other."

A journalist and long-time civil rights activist, Clayton has a vested interest in changing the perception of the African-American community.

  • How well do you know your civil rights era history? Take our Quiz!
  • The Trumpet Awards ceremony will be broadcast on TBS on Saturday, February 23 at 7 p.m. ET.
  • "We (African Americans) werent included in the history books," Clayton said, "and when we got on television we were limited to sports and entertainment."

    Instead, Clayton insists, there is a need for a well-rounded view of African-American contributions in all areas of life -- including politics, medicine, science and art.

    More than a decade ago, Clayton approached Turner Broadcasting System founder and then-CEO Ted Turner with her idea to establish an awards ceremony.

    "She came in to me and said What do you think of this idea?" said Turner. "I did think it was a great idea. It was our honor to support it and watch it grow into such a major event."

    Honoring excellence

    This year, the Trumpet Awards spotlight, among others, actor Sidney Poitier, actress Cicely Tyson and songstress Erykah Badu.

    According to Clayton, the awards honor those who rise above personal achievement and help others along the way.

    "We arent looking for people who make a million bucks and hide it under the bed," she said.

    Academy Award winning actor Sidney Poitier is to receive the Living Legend Award this year for his excellence in film and his commitment to humanitarian issues.

    "It's not just a television program ... we are changing lives."

    -- Xernona Clayton on The Trumpet Awards Ceremony

    And philanthropist and media mogul Ted Turner is being honored with the Humanitarian Award for his dedication to environmental causes and his numerous charitable contributions.

    "His life depicts his sense of opportunity for all of us," Clayton said of Turner.

    The Trumpet Awards do not just sound out the accomplishments of African Americans. Instead, Clayton has worked hard to "fully integrate" the ceremony.

    "Although weve (African Americans) been capable and able all along we have gotten where we have gotten because somebody not black helped us along the way," she said.

    The awards are very personal to the woman who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and worked for equality with the Urban League in Chicago, Illinois.

    "To me it is more than just a television show, more than just a night of glitz and glamour We are doing a lot to dispel myths and inspire young people," Clayton said. The Trumpet Awards also provide more than $1.5 million in scholarship money to young people in need.

    The Awards ceremony will be broadcast on TBS on Saturday, February 23 at 7 p.m. ET.

    • Black History Special
    • Chasing the Dream

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    Updated September 21, 2002

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