Top of the morning, Jan. 19, 2014

Claude Shelby, longtime leader of the Martin Luther King Jr. Advocacy for Justice committee and pastor at Champaign's Salem Baptist Church, has provided plenty of inspiration through the years. In advance of today's 29th annual MLK celebration at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (5-7 p.m.), we asked Claude for three people who inspire him:

First of all I would like to mention my father. My father has been the greatest inspiration for my life. He taught me to have a good work ethic and to be self-reliant. He taught me that if any job is worth doing at all, it should be done to the best of my ability. That has been a guiding principle over the many years of my life. He also taught me to depend on myself rather than on others. I am thankful for my father, the late, Rev. James K. Shelby.

Another person who has been an inspiration to me was the late Dr.William P. Alexander, who was pastor of Greater New Hope Baptist Church of East St. Louis. He was my first instructor and dean of American Baptist Theological Seminary Extension. He was one whom I used as a mentor and who was a good pattern for excellence in pastoral ministry.

My third person who inspired me was the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I always appreciated his quest for freedom, justice and equal opportunities for all humankind. That is why I am very pleased to have led the largest annual Dr. Martin Luther King (celebration) in Champaign County for the past 29 years.

Today's event

Leading ... Claude Shelby

Speaking ... Dr. Francis Iheririka

Remembering .... longtime choir director Clarence Todd Taylor

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