Jr. High marches to showing at theater


Cathie Lawrence

More than 700 students of Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School marched to and from the Maya Cinemas in Pittsburg. Along the way, they carried a banner depicting Martin Luther King Jr. and chanted together.


“To keep the dream on!”

“We’re carrying on the legacy!”

Shouts from students from Martin Luther King Jr. Junior High School rang through the streets of Pittsburg as they marched from Maya Cinemas back to their school Jan. 26.

With a banner featuring the image of King held proudly by students, the group of over seven hundred students were taking part of a massive field trip to see the film ‘Selma,’ which deals with King and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

“It’s a great tool for educating our young folk,” said Contra Costa County District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, who gave praise to the Pittsburg School District, the junior high and all those involved with organizing the event, adding that a decision to take students to see a film such as ‘Selma,’ helps younger generations “visit what took place” and “view sacrifices that were made,” sacrifices that many of the students’ grandparents had witnessed, and many still struggle with today.

“More schools need to do the same thing,” said Magdaelena Gonzales, head of security at Pittsburg High School who lent her time along with officers of the Pittsburg Police Department to provide a safe route from the theater to the school. “I think it’s amazing.”

With group rates arranged by Maya Cinemas that included discounts at the concession stands, students and faculty filled five reserved auditoriums. The event ticket sales totalled 702 according to House Manager Michael Marinas.

“The school was nicely organized,” said Marinas, who admitted his first thoughts of accommodating such a large audience would be “a little difficult,” but having just the opposite occur, adding the students were “absolutely behaved.”

Leading the crowd of students and teachers through the busy cone-lined streets, Principal Angela Stevens-Stevenson spoke through a bullhorn to help keep things in order and amplify the march’s chant: “We are M.L.K. Creating our legacy every day!”

With the namesake of the school having such a connection to the film, teacher Robert Butterfield said he feels strongly about the value of teaching the students “what had to be done” during the time of the film’s portrayal, as well as helping to continue the ideals put forth during the film.

“It’s important for us to carry on that legacy,” said Butterfield as he marched with students across the busy intersection of Loveridge Rd. and N. Park Blvd. “We try to continue that struggle.”

With smiles and heads held high, the students and teachers marched past onlookers to the sounds of honking horns as drivers waited for the mob of students to make their way safely across. As the final group paraded through the intersection, Gonzalales commended the school for its efforts in helping the students, as well as the community.

“It takes a lot to take 700 kids to the movies. It takes heart,” said Gonzales. “Martin Luther King Junior High has heart.”