Local students remember MLK with march

A group of students held a march in honor Martin Luther King Jr. Monday morning at San Juan Oaks. Photo by Nick Lovejoy

In the rolling green hills just outside of Hollister, 16 students in suits, skirts and bow ties waved pink, green and white posters and prepared for a march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Instead of attending normal Monday morning classes, these students, ages 12 to 18, were celebrating the national holiday—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—by participating in a march for equality that honored the civil rights leader at San Juan Oaks Golf Club off Union Road near Hollister. The march was a new addition to the Community Fellowship Center’s sixth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Breakfast.
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around,” hummed the students. “I gonna keep on a walkin’. Keep on a talkin’. Marching on to freedom land.”
In the second row of students, Jennifer Regalado,17, a senior at San Benito High School, held a sign high with her arms forming strong right angles and with her triceps parallel to the parking lot asphalt.
“I really enjoy what he did because I also believe everyone was created equal and it doesn’t matter, the color of your skin,” said Jennifer Regalado.
Her mother, Violeta Regalado, 41, stood on the sidelines and watched. It was Violeta’s birthday, but she chose to start the special day by watching her daughter participate in the march. Regalado explained in Spanish that she admires King because he encouraged pursuing a dream until reaching it.
“It’s not an African-American march,” said ShaRon Mills, the executive director of the Community Fellowship Center. “It’s a march of American kids—all nationalities.”
The breakfast was the culminating event for an eight-week Leadership and Technology workshop, for which the Community Fellowship Center partnered with the probation and court systems in San Benito County to help at-risk students learn how to use PowerPoint, social media and the Internet, Mills explained.
Students participating in the workshop also gained a mentor, who is close to their age and will continue to stay in contact after the program ends.
“These are kids that don’t talk to many people,” said Mills, adding that students may suffer from depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “And they are relating to these mentors. They’re able to communicate and it’s important to have somebody you can talk to face to face. And that’s what these mentors really give these kids.”
The mentors help students with homework and they don’t judge, Regalado said.
“It’s nice having someone there for you that’s older,” she said.
In a big room with white tablecloths and black napkins, the students and their families prepared for a buffet breakfast, prayed and listened to a speech from Karina Cervantes Alejo, the wife of local Assemblyman Luis Alejo.
The youngest participant in the center’s workshop, Andre Carrillo, 12, won the competition for the best PowerPoint presentation with slides about the leader, Abraham Lincoln. The home-schooled, Gilroy resident was joined by his mother, brother, grandfather and uncle at the breakfast. Picking Lincoln for the presentation wasn’t hard for Carrillo, the student said.
“Without him, I wouldn’t be born due to my mom being Mexican and my dad being Black,” he said.
Even though the program has ended, students, including Carrillo, will take the things they learned with them.
“It really teaches you can be better than what you are,” he said.
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