Born in Birmingham, Alabama, during the great depression era, Shelley Stewart overcame abandonment and homelessness to become one of the country’s most popular radio personalities. Known as "Shelley The Playboy," he helped launch the careers of artists like Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and Otis Redding. More importantly, his crossover appeal to both black and white listeners allowed him to address the issues facing America. In the 1960s, Shelley’s broadcasts helped Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders to organize non-violent street protests by reaching young listeners in Birmingham. History remembers these protests as a major turning point leading to President Kennedy’s introduction of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So important was Shelley’s role in those protests that it is featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary Mighty Times: The Children’s March. Shelley’s lifetime odyssey is chronicled in his best-selling memoirs published by Time Warner Books called The Road South.
Today, Shelley serves as the President and CEO of o2ideas, Inc., one of the country’s largest corporate communications and marketing firms. He is also the Founder and Board President of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, a national non-profit organization creating tools and resources to help reduce the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate in communities across America. It is Shelley’s hope that the tools created by The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation will be widely used in schools and communities so that young people and their families will have the opportunity to experience their powerful message.