Peggy Wortham, a 78-year-old activist who has been fighting for civil rights for decades, received the Trailblazer Award at the Martin Luther King Jr. Business Awards in Denver. Wortham, a Virginia native, moved to Washington D.C. with her godmother after graduating high school and found a path that would lead her into a lifetime of service for human rights.

“I’m from a place called Danville, Virginia. It’s south of Washington, D.C. Age myself now but I graduated high school in 1963,” Wortham said in an interview with CBS News.

When she later moved to Denver, Wortham became a leader for the MLK Jr African American Heritage rodeo, educating young people about the role of Black people in Western history.

“Coming from Virginia, we didn’t have any cowboys or cowgirls so I was in awe when I saw real cowboys and cowgirls,” Wortham said.

When she first arrived in Denver with her children and her husband, who was a veteran, Wortham faced discrimination. The family experienced racism when they tried to rent a home in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver. They were only able to get the home with help from white allies.

“So when we went they said no. But when we sent the white person they said yes. So we got involved with the NAACP, and the Urban League and housing and all the different groups to try to stop that from going on in Park Hill,” Wortham said.

Wortham spent part of her career working alongside former Denver mayor Wellington Webb. She has also worked with several other Black leaders around the country to fight for social justice. Wortham has especially focused on encouraging young people to vote.

“With the younger people, they’re questioning, what is it all about? And we’re trying to say, again you get out and vote, you got a voice, but if you stay home, don’t vote, complain. You’re just more a part of the problem than you are the solution,” she said.

Looking back on her journey, the Virginia native said the 1963 March on Washington remains one of the key moments of her life.

“It was quite an honor just to be there and see everybody and hear all the speeches and it was such great energy,” she said. “I was impressed with the fact that Dr. King was talking about equality for all, jobs and better conditions for everybody.”

The 78-year-old Colorado resident is grateful for the recognition she is receiving.

“I never thought in 1963, that I’d be here receiving the MLK Award in 2024. But it’s a pleasure and a blessing,” she said.