The International Civil Rights Center and Museum restructured its gala and moved the time of year for the 2022 event, and Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – a founder of the museum – said the gala was a big success at this important time in the museum’s history when it’s focused on a dramatic expansion that will eventually take over an entire block of downtown Greensboro.

Alston said this week that the time of the gala presentations was also kept to about two hours this year while in the past that part of the dinner could become quite extended. He said that was a plus.

This year, the museum’s big annual fund-raising gala was held on Monday, July 25, and the Dr. George Simkins Annual Golf Classic took place on Friday, July 22.

This is a huge time for the civil rights museum since the museum is currently attempting to raise tens of millions of dollars for a massive expansion meant to qualify it to become a World Heritage Site – an exclusive landmark designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Each year, the large gala – the museum’s main fundraiser – celebrates the legacy of the ‘A&T Four,’ the four black A&T students who sat in at the F.W. Woolworth’s “whites-only” lunch counter in Greensboro on Feb. 1, 1960 – sparking a nationwide civil rights movement that, among other things, led to the racial integration at the Greensboro Woolworth’s months later.

In the past, the gala has been held close to that time – in late January or early February – however, Alston said the summer time worked will this year. The change in schedule for the Gala was meant to honor the 62nd anniversary of the day – July 25 – when the lunch counter became racially integrated.

As a key segment of the gala this year, Vice President Kamala Harris was recognized as an honorary civil rights trailblazer. The museum had hoped to bring Harris to the event in person however they knew that was a longshot from the start.

In April of 2021, Harris did drop by the museum for a surprise visit when she was in town for another event.

Also at the gala, legendary civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson (seen above center) received the Alston/Jones International Civil Rights and Human Rights Award.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is continuing to hold other events this summer. For instance, on Friday, August 5, the museum is hosting “Jazz Up August” at 100 S. Elm St. in downtown Greensboro. Food truck vendor, “Rex The Crazy Ribman” will be there and “Sweet Dreams Band” will provide “smooth music from one of the area’s hottest bands.” That will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday.

The 2022 gala was also accompanied by a “Captain’s Choice” golf tournament. Due to that format, Alston didn’t have an individual golf score. Alston, who’s known for hitting the links just about every chance he gets, said he wasn’t on the winning team that day but the golf tournament was still a big success.