OAKLAND -- More than 30 years ago, a tenacious student group from Oakland Technical High School and their class adviser set out to do what they could to get California legislators to pass a bill for an annual holiday to honor the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The group, called The Apollos, ran a two-year campaign lobbying city, county and state leaders and politicians to set a formal holiday in King's honor.
They were thrilled when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in 1981 for the annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January.
"I never thought I'd be a part of something so great," said Apollo member Leroy Bradford.
A YouTube video, titled "The Apollos," tells the story of the students' early morning trips to Sacramento and after-school and weekend efforts to promote their mission. Apollo adviser Tay MacArthur said the students spent several thousand hours over the course of their lobbying efforts. Now The Apollos want to make January a monthlong remembrance for King every year.
"We decided that one day just wasn't enough to celebrate his life and legacy," said Apollo member Gwendolyn Patterson. "Like we did when we were in high school, we're going to write to our representatives and do what we did then to lobby for the month celebration."
On Dec. 18, the Oakland City Council presented a resolution for Oakland to become the first city to stand behind the Apollos' campaign to expand King's remembrance to a month.
The work will be worth it, said another Apollo member, because King stands for the progress made in civil rights for African Americans.