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Louisville hosts civil rights leader, celebrates with luncheon

Xernona Clayton was Martin Luther King Jr.'s assistant and friend.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A civil rights leader made an appearance at the Louisville Urban League's centennial IMPACT report luncheon Friday morning.

Her name is Xernona Clayton, and she was Martin Luther King Jr.'s assistant and trusted friend.

Clayton said she's seen progress over the years, but there’s still more work to be done on equality and equity. She hoped everyone left the luncheon feeling inspired.

The annual event saw nearly 1000 people. Community leaders discussed the urban league's impact and how it can improve.

"We might be in different political parties, but today we come together and say this is something we can agree on - the mission of the urban league, which is to impower communities and really change lives,” Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds said.

Clayton said she wasn't there to tell the long-standing organization how to do its job, but to listen. She said she can tell Louisville is headed in the right direction.

“I think her message had impact,” Clayton said of Reynold’s speech. “I think she touched the very core of people's hearts today. It was a message you could take and do what you like, and you can do nothing, but I doubt that would be the case."

Clayton told the crowd stories about her personal life, Martin Luther King Jr. and how she's worked with people with different views. Seeing the work continue made her proud.

"I've seen a lot of ‘shouldn't happen’ events, or ‘couldn't happen’ events, and I saw it today in Louisville, Kentucky, so it proved to me that maybe, that maybe we're getting back closer as groups of people,” Clayton said.

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