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AUM welcomes former Birmingham radio personality, philanthropist Shelley Stewart as 2024 MLK Jr. Reflections Breakfast speaker

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Auburn University at Montgomery will welcome Shelley Stewart, once one of Birmingham’s best-known radio personalities and a longtime philanthropist, as the keynote speaker for the university’s annual MLK Jr. Reflections Breakfast.

Stewart, of Birmingham, Alabama, overcame poverty and family tragedies as a child to eventually become one of Birmingham’s best-known radio personalities and one of America’s most prominent African American businessmen and philanthropists.

Stewart will reflect on his work in the community at AUM’s MLK Reflections Breakfast Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 9 a.m. in Taylor Center 221-222. The event is free, but registration is required since seating is limited. Submit your RSVP here:

Stewart’s 55-year career in broadcasting began in 1949 as a local radio personality, playing a prominent role as a key communicator during Birmingham’s human rights struggles of the 1960s for young people involved in street protests there. Around this same time, he launched a “parallel career” in advertising, co-founding the Birmingham-based global marketing, advertising and public relations firm o2ideas in 1967.

He went on to own a radio station and earn recognition for his community activism and prolific radio career. He has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution for his radio career and was the first African American inducted into the Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2008. In September 2019, he was inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame and received a Proclamation from the Atlanta City Council commending him for his role in the success of Black radio in that city. Throughout his life, he also has received countless national and regional marketing, business and humanitarian honors.

Stewart gives back in the community as president and founder of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation (MCSF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the dropout rate. He established MCSF in honor of his late mother, Mattie C. Stewart. To date, the Foundation’s tools are estimated to have reached 19 million children, educators, community leaders and parents across 49 U.S. states.

In 2018, in his honor Samford University established the Shelley Stewart Endowed Scholarship supporting African American students in the School of Health Professions. He holds an alumnus honoris causa degree as an honorary member of the Samford University Class of 2013, and holds an honorary doctorate from Miles College. He is frequently consulted for media interviews on social movements and cultural topics.

Stewart’s lifetime odyssey is chronicled in “Mattie C’s Boy: The Shelley Stewart Story,” a book by NewSouth Publishing.

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