Tribune 2

The Apollos were a group of activist-minded students at Oakland Tech that were instrumental in getting Martin Luther King, Jr. Day made a holiday in the state of California. Under the guidance of teacher Tay McArthur, students including Gwendolyn Lovely, Sonya Lyons, Karen Kennedy, and Leroy Bradford spent countless hours working to get it passed.

In 1977, the class of 1981 was the first group of freshman at Oakland Tech since the 1930s. Students were inspired by a discussion in a U.S. History class about why there were no holidays honoring African Americans or other people of color. In 1979, teacher Tay McArthur told them that a bill to create the holiday had failed again, never even making it to a vote. After countless hours of work, trips to Sacramento, and working with other groups, they succeeded. On September 3rd, 1981, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill #312. The state holiday was first observed on January 15th, 1982. MLK Day didn't become a national holiday until 1983, and was celebrated the first time in 1986, with some states lagging into the 1990s. 1 In 1984, a group of Apollo students worked on getting the remaining states to observe the holiday. 3

In 1985, the group worked to get landmark status for the Oakland Tech building. 4

Links and References

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Wikipedia
  2. Working on a Holiday by Peggy Stinnett Oakland Tribune January 11, 2002 (p2)
  3. Tech grads ask landmark status for school Oakland Tribune July 23, 1985 (p2)
  4. Student kicks off King drive Oakland Tribune January 15, 1984