Two Atlantic County Community Members Honored with MLK Spirit Awards

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“What would Martin Luther King say to America today?” Rev. Collins A. Days, Sr., asked during his keynote speech on Friday, January 12th. “If he was watching and listening to all of the bizarre things that are happening in this great country.”

Officials with Atlantic County presented two local youth advocates with the 2018 Martin Luther King Community Spirit Award for their hard work and efforts to improve the lives of those around them in South Jersey.

One honoree was Michael Bailey, who dedicated many years to the Atlantic City Police Athletic League and as a junior football coach.

“Everyone has their own course of life, but this is mine, and so I’m just happy to be recognized for it, and so I’m humbled,” said Bailey.

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Bailey says he tries to teach youth to stand for what they believe in, just like Martin Luther King, Jr. did.

“We have to let them know that you are special, that you can make it, that you are intelligent,” said Bailey. “So these are the things that we have to instill in them so that they can have dreams like Dr. King and so many others.”

The second honoree, Ms. Shermaine Gunter-Gary, came down with the flu before the ceremony.

On her behalf, her son and sister accepted the prestigious award.

“We’re very proud of her, she’s a very hard working, sincerely religious Christian who walks her walk,” said Elaine Gunter, Shermaine’s sister.

Gunter-Gary dedicated her life to empowering at-risk youth, according to her family.

She founded and directed many programs to help hundreds of kids achieve excellence.

“Even though I am her only biological child, I am not an only child,” said Brian Gunter, Shermaine’s son. “There has always been some youth or other children in our household, whether they be staying with us or just coming to the house for programs.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, January 15th. The civil rights leader and American icon was assassinated 50 years ago. 

And while a few speakers touched on how today’s world is different than the one Martin Luther King dreamed of, there are still plenty of people who represent his spirit in Atlantic City.

Read: MLK Day of Service Is Monday

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