January 2014

Melvin “Skip” Alston

Business Owner, Former Elected Official

Melvin “Skip” Alston was 10 years old in 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Vowing to follow in his hero’s footsteps, Alston charted a course in business, politics and service that would make him one of the most influential citizens in his community.

Educated in the Durham City School System, Alston enrolled at North Carolina Central University to study business. However, before graduation, Alston moved to Greensboro in 1979 and started his own real estate firm, today called The Alston Realty Group, Inc.

Soon after, Alston joined the NAACP, serving on the National Board of Trustees from 1987 to 2006 and as president of the Greensboro branch from 1991-93.

In 1992, Alston was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, where he served for 20 years. In 2003 he was elected Chairman, the first African-American to hold the position. “I cherished the moment, but I looked at the fact that a lot of blacks before me were more qualified than I was,” Alston said. “They were not given that opportunity because of the color of their skin.”

Alston also served as the president of the North Carolina Association for Black County Officials and the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. But he is especially proud of his role in helping launch Sit-In Movement, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to buying the historic Woolworth building in Greensboro where the sit-in movement began in 1960. The building was renovated and opened as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in 2010.

Alston remains committed to serving his community and furthering Dr. King’s vision of equality for all.

“I could have been a whole lot more successful if I had only concentrated on me,” he said. “But I feel that I have made contributions and opened up doors so other people can have the same opportunities I had.”