Abernathy: Lifelong effort for justice, equality

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The opening ceremony of the 15th Annual Leadership Conference at Troy University this weekend will feature Juanita Jones Abernathy as the keynote speaker at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Sartain Hall.

As the widow of Dr. Ralph Abernathy, who was a close associate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Juanita Abernathy became pivotally involved in the civil rights movement from the inception of the Montgomery bus boycott. For much of her life, her work has taken her throughout the world working for justice and equality for all.

“We are extremely honored to have Juanita Abernathy as the keynote speaker for our 2016 Leadership Conference,” said Shelia Jackson, public relations director for the City of Troy, which is conference co-sponsor with Troy University. “She is a dynamic and thought provoking speaker. She captures the spirit of the African American fight for freedom and human dignity. Juanita Abernathy as touched people all around the world with her massage of hope, empowerment and justice for all.”

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Jackson said Abernathy’s work and personal sacrifices during the civil rights movement have connected her to a lifelong struggle for human rights, not just in the United States but also around the world. Abernathy is a native of Uniontown. She attended elementary and high school at Selma University, a boarding school in Selma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business education at Tennessee State University. Abernathy has been successful in several entrepreneurial ventures and held a top position in Mary Kay Cosmetics for nearly 20 years.

Abernathy continues to volunteer her time for numerous civic and religious organizations. She serves on the board of directors and as secretary for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, on the board of trustees of the Morehouse School of Religion and on the board of directors for the Ralph David Abernathy Towers and Ralph David Abernathy Foundation. She served on the board of director and as treasurer of the Fulton County Development Authority, on the board of directors of the Atlanta-Fulton County League of Women Voters and is a former member of the Citizen Panel Review Board for the Development of Family and Children’s Services.

Tickets for the 2016 Leadership Conference on Feb. 5 and 6 at Troy University are $30 for the weekend and include the closing luncheon on Saturday and a reception from 6 until 8 p.m. on Friday at the Johnson Center for the Arts. The reception features the artwork of Darrius Hill from Birmingham.

Tickets may be purchased online at troy.edu/leadershipconference or by calling the Troy Tourism and Public Relations Office at 334-670-2283 or on site at 113 North Market Street in Troy.