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Club Apologizes For Rescinding Invitation To Black TBS Vice President

April 22, 1987

ROME, Ga. (AP) _ A business women’s club has apologized to a Turner Broadcasting System vice president after rescinding her invitation to address the group, an action one club member said was prompted by race.

Xernona Clayton, who is black, is vice president of public affairs for TBS. She said Tuesday she had been invited to speak at the club’s annual ″Woman of the Year″ banquet April 28, but the invitation was rescinded after she sent photograph and biography information as requested.

Mrs. Clayton, who was in Dallas on Tuesday on business, said she had not received the club’s apology. She said she was shocked but not angered by the incident.

″I’ve worked a long time in human rights, civil rights and race relations,″ she said in a telephone interview. ″I knew those kinds of things existed, but I guess I thought that day had passed. ... I thought as women we had a common interest here; I thought we were fighting the same fight.

″I’m really not angry, it’s just a challenge. I know there’s still work to do.″

She said Amy Pimper, head of the committee working on the banquet arrangements for the Rome chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, told her a majority of the committee members decided ″Rome was not ready for a black speaker.″

Mrs. Clayton said Mrs. Pimper was resigning to protest the decision.

Mrs. Pimper told the Rome News-Tribune in an interview Monday that race was the only reason the invitation was rescinded. ″It was nothing else.″

Two groups that were scheduled to provide entertainment for the banquet also canceled their appearances in protest.

The club issued a statement Monday saying it had ″recognized outstanding women of this community without regard to their race, creed or religious affiliation″ for 31 years. The statement was sent to Mrs. Clayton along with a letter apologizing ″for any embarrassment or inconvenience you have experienced.″

Club official Ann Tison said Mrs. Clayton’s fame, not her race, was the reason for the decision. She said the members feared a larger hall would have to be found for the banquet, so the group decided to invite Mrs. Clayton at another time.

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