King's life, Lili'uokalani's overthrow remembered
The Maui News
|Involvement of the kamali`i is important for our future as Kanaka Maoli. Everyone should be aware of what happened the the Hawaiian Kingdom and Queen Liliuokalani 112 years ago. - Uncle Charlie|
|Eddie Juan, 7, blows a conch shell during a Native Hawaiian demonstration near the intersection of Kaahumanu Avenue and Kahului Beach Road on Monday. Juan and his grandfather, Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. (left), took part in the event to mark the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy on Jan. 17, 1893.|
By VALERIE MONSON, Staff Writer
KAHULUI – From the edge of the beach, Martin Luther King Jr.'s voice from more than 40 years ago thundered across the sand with his stirring "I Have a Dream" speech. Just up the street, Hawaiian flags hung upside down.
This year, Martin Luther King Day, observed on the third Monday of January to acknowledge the civil rights leader, and the anniversary of the overthrow of Hawaii and Queen Lili'uokalani on Jan. 17, 1893, fell on the same day.
The two occasions were united by similar passions.
"Martin Luther King and Queen Lili'uokalani have a lot in common because they were both peacekeepers and they dedicated their lives to breathe the breath of aloha," said Iao School teacher and musician Lei'ohu Ryder. "Today is really a day of joy Ð of joy and forgiveness. In order for us to move on, we have to practice the teachings and the creeds of those sacred ones that gave us the message Ð Martin Luther King, Queen Lili'uokalani, Gandhi and the many nameless, faceless ones dedicated to building this rainbow bridge of aloha."
Many hands of many colors marched along Kaahumanu Avenue and rallied at Hoaloha Park to keep alive the voices that could not be silenced by assassination or illegal takeover.
"This is like a network, a web that continues to expand," said Earl "Sundance" Sheppard, one of the coordinators of the event. "This day is sort of like a talisman Ð we gather at this time of year to fortify ourselves in Dr. King's dream and feel that vision. It's like a beacon of light that shines brighter and keeps people on the path."
Ayin Adams, the other coordinator, said the march has been taking place annually for nearly 20 years Ð and keeps getting stronger.
"With the Iraq war and the tsunami tragedy, we need peace more than ever before," said Adams, who will keep the spirit of the march going Feb. 12, when she presents her one-act play, "A Tribute to Dr. King" at 6:30 p.m. at Kamalii Elementary School in Kihei as part of Black History Month activities.
Mayor Alan Arakawa had been scheduled to speak, but was called to Honolulu on business. Herman Andaya, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns, stood in for him.
"We celebrate not only the life of a great man, but his dream," said Andaya. "Regardless of the color of our skin, we are all beneficiaries of his dream."
With Hawaiian flags hanging upside down in a show of distress at a gathering at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center, it was also obvious that the dream was not yet reality for everyone. Back at Hoaloha Park, many of those who carried signs and later applauded the various speeches, had causes of their own. Some came from great distances to find support for injustices being heaped upon them.
Adeline Peter Raboff, a member of the Gwich'in tribe in Alaska, was in the midst of a journey around the islands to talk about the plight of her people. They are trying to fend off oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where drilling would endanger the caribou herd that has sustained the small population throughout history. The quality of water and air also would be threatened.
"The oil companies that came in have a lot more political oomph," said Raboff. "Under United Nations resolutions, people have a right to maintain their subsistence lifestyles. This (drilling in the refuge) affects our human rights."
Raboff hopes her message will convince Hawaii residents to write to U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka to oppose drilling in the refuge.
Robert Pollack, representing Ebb and Flow Arts, passed out fliers about upcoming performances of the music of George Walker, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. Concerts will be held March 17 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center and March 22 at Makawao Union Church, where Walker will be present.
As he listened to King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, which played on a 33-RPM record and was broadcast over loudspeakers set up near the beach, Pollack said each time he hears the words, the more of an impact they carry.
"He speaks with such eloquence, poetry and courage," said Pollack. "To think that he was struck down at 39 years of age by forces that are still at work today."
King, the man of peace, met a violent death when he was shot in the neck on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.
Maui resident Natalie Tyler heard that powerful voice in person on more than one occasion. Tyler was part of King's 1963 march on Washington "when we all felt so connected" even though she remembers Caucasians throwing rocks at participants. Tyler, who began working for civil rights as a teenager, hosted King in her home when she lived on the Mainland.
While King's speech continued to fortify the crowd at Hoaloha Park, lunch was served in the canoe hale. Ryder, who brought her Iao School Peace Club to the event, hoped the children especially would be touched by the rousing speech delivered long before they were born.
"As our backbones of spirit align, we must feed the spirit of the breath of the heavens with remembrances of this kind so our children can inherit the legacy of peace," said Ryder. "The children hear the call. They know it in their bones. I'm asking Maui: Do you hear the call of your ancestors to build that rainbow bridge of aloha?"
Valerie Monson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2004 The Maui News