GREENSBORO, N.C. — The spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive across the country Monday.
In Greensboro, they held an annual memorial breakfast, but this year was different.
Five people received awards for their work in advancing civil rights.
WFMY News 2's Itinease McMiller sat down with two of the winners.
The recipients were chosen for being local civil rights pioneers furthering Dr. King’s vision. The public nominated them, and the Greensboro Human Rights commission narrowed it down to five recipients.
Skip Alston, the co-founder of the International Civil Right Center and Museum has accomplished a great deal of work in keeping Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s mission alive.
The museum is an eye-opener for a lot of people.
"I look at him and say to him symbolically Dr. King your dream is still alive and we’re still working on it," Alston stated.
The Guilford County Commission chair said he knew he wanted to become a civil rights activist at just 10 years old.
"I started looking at how I might emulate and work for the causes that Martin Luther King Jr. died for. Somebody had to carry it through. I wanted to be one of those individuals," Alston continued.
Over the years, he's helped get Asheboro Street renamed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and organize the MLK annual parade.
He was recognized at this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial breakfast where he received the everyday champion of civil rights award.
"I'm honored that I received it, but I'm humbled. I was just carrying out what I thought needed to be done because the man who died for that cause, isn't here anymore," Alston said. "So he had to live inside of me just like many others."
Joyce Gorham Worsley, Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, T. Dianne Bellamy Small, and James Shields also received the award.
"I was very surprised, especially living in Greensboro where there are so many heroes," James Shields said.
Shields' father was a part of the security detail for Dr. King. It motivated him to teach about service, social justice, and equality at the Bonner Center.
"Asking questions as Dr. King would. 'Why are people poor?' 'Why are people hungry?' Then you ask yourself, 'what can I do?', and they're doing all this great work giving back to the community trying to help solve the problems," Shields stated.
Both Shields and Alston are working on projects to further human rights in Greensboro.
Alston said the next big issue he plans to tackle is homelessness.
“I want to look out for the homeless and eliminate people sleeping on the street," Alston said. "That’s something I think MLK Jr. would want."
He hopes to next year celebrate the creation of a holistic approach to addressing homelessness with a mental health and treatment facility.
Shields’ will forward Dr. King's mission by sharing the Triad's rich history at the African American Cultural Arts and History Center in Burlington.
“Before you can move forward you have to go back and reflect on that history for me that’s my role,” Shield’s said. “Whether it’s through history or the mentoring I do.”