Xernona Clayton, a friend of John Lewis and his wife Lilian, has paid a special tribute to the late congressman, revealing how John and Lilian met.

Congressman John Lewis died on July 17th following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

From July 25th onwards, there have been six days of services and memorial events to honour the late American politician.

Some of the events started in John’s hometown, Troy, Alabama, proceeding to the United States Capitol earlier this week.

Speaking on John’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, Xernona Clayton, a close friend, recalled how she helped John meet his future wife.

Photo by Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

Who is Xernona Clayton?

Xernona is a civil rights leader and founder and CEO of the Trumpet Awards.

The awards, which were first introduced in 1993, honour the work and performance of African American people in a range of different industries.

According to a bio profile on NWHM, Xernona started her television career in 1967 and she became the first Southern African American woman to host her own TV show in that year. It was called The Xernona Clayton Show and aired on WAGA-TV which is a CBS affiliate in Atlanta.

In 1979, she joined Turner Broadcasting where she first served as a producer of documentary specials and later was a director of PR. She became a corporate VP for urban affairs in 1988.

She retired from Turner Broadcasting in 1997.

Xernona pays tribute to John Lewis

Xernona has paid an emotional tribute (via 11Alive) to John Lewis on his funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, July 30th.

She recalled the time when she introduced John and future wife Lilian, revealing more details about how they started dating.

Xernona said that Lilian was single at the time, calling her “highly intellectual, well-traveled, well-educated”. She said she wanted to set up Lilian with “a good man”.

“I wanted her to have someone who really would appreciate her skills and her talent,” Xernona explained. “So, I looked around and decided that I liked John.” 

Xernona continued:

“She thought he was kind of slow. And I said, ‘Lillian, he is busy. He is fighting the evils of the world,’. I decided, ‘Girl, listen, this boy is going places so let’s see what he can do to get this thing moving.'”

Eventually, Xernona managed to set them up on New Year’s Eve when she invited John and Lilian to her house.

People react to Xernona’s tribute

Twitter users have called Xernona’s tribute to John Lewis “incredible”, with many saying that everyone needs a friend like Xernona in their life.

Crooked Media founder Tommy Vietor said: “Xernona Clayton talking about setting up a young John Lewis up on a date is incredible.”

Another person reacted: “Xernona Clayton is my new role model. I hope many young women look to this speech, and all the good trouble she has gotten into to help them live full, involved, joyous lives.”

Check out more reactions down below.

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