“THE ULTIMATE MEASURE OF A MAN IS NOT WHERE HE STANDS IN MOMENTS OF COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE BUT WHERE HE STANDS AT TIMES OF CHALLENGE AND CONTROVERSY .” – DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr greatest legacy was his philosophy of nonviolent resistance to achieve peace. His message of respect for cultural diversity speaks clearly to the people of Hawai’i.
Recent studies by WalletHub.com concluded that Hawaii is the “most racially integrated state” in America. The financial sites statistics were derived using such data as annual income, poverty rate, economic and educational opportunities available to determine the gap between whites and blacks in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii ranked No. 1 because of our unique culture and the Hawaiian concepts of Aloha, Kokua and Ohana.
MLK The Man
It is a true testament to the importance of what Dr King stood for in that we honor his achievements each year. His ideals have stood the test of time because close to 50 years after his death we are still having the conversations that he started. None of what he did between 1957 and 1968 came easy, and he made many personal sacrifices to bring his message of equality through peaceful protest.
He appeared wherever there was injustice incorporating the ideals he learned from his Baptist minister upbringing and theological education while practicing the operational technique of peaceful protest made famous by Gandhi.
During these years Dr King traveled over 6 million miles and spoke over 2500 times. He led a massive protest in Birmingham Alabama that caught the attention of the world which created what he called a “coalition of conscience”. Dr King was arrested close to 30 times and assaulted at least four times.
He wrote five books as well as numerous articles including his inspiring “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which was hailed at the time as a manifesto of the Negro revolution. In 1963 he directed the peaceful march on Washington D.C. of over 250,000 people where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He met with President John F Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Dr King was also awarded five honorary degrees and was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963.
At the age of 35 Dr King was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, turning over the prize money of $54,123 to civil rights organizations. He became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks and the civil rights movement but also a world figure.
On April 4th 1968 Dr King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis Tennessee. He was to lead a protest march supporting the striking garbage workers of that city. He was also said to have been planning a national occupation of Washington D.C. to be called the Poor People’s Campaign. His assassination was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Dr King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Civil Rights Movement
Social Equality and Justice for Black Americans
One of the key aspects of King’s leadership was his ability to coalesce support from many types of organizations including labor unions, peace organizations, southern reform organizations, and religious groups. King further articulated the connections between the African-American freedom struggle and those abroad: “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality”
Dr King utilized the leadership skills gained from his religious and academic training to create a distinctive protest strategy that involved the mobilization of black churches while appealing to white supporters.
He became the primary spokesman for the year long Montgomery bus boycott sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks. He led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of black America’s civil rights revolution.
In March 1957, King traveled to the west African country of Ghana to attend the nation’s independence ceremony. King identified with Ghana’s struggle and he recognized a strong parallel between European colonialism in Africa and the struggle against racism in the United States.
Dr King’s first book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” increased his standing as a national civil rights leader. In 1958 King was the victim of his first assassination attempt. His house had been bombed several times during the Montgomery bus boycott and it was while signing copies of Stride Toward Freedom that Izola Ware Curry stabbed him with a letter opener.
During 1959 Dr King made a month-long visit to India sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. The trip he increased his understanding of Gandhian ideas.
King wrote after his return: “I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom”.
1963 Birmingham Bus Boycott and Protests – During the protests the Birmingham Police Department used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protesters, including children. Footage of the police response was broadcast on national television news and dominated the nation’s attention, shocking many white Americans and consolidating black Americans behind the movement.
King was arrested and jailed in Birmingham and from his cell he composed the now famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which calls upon the movement to pursue legal avenues for social change. King writes that the crisis of racism is too urgent and the current system too entrenched. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He points out that the Boston Tea Party, a celebrated act of rebellion in the American colonies, was illegal civil disobedience and also pointed out that “everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal”.
I Have a Dream
1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
In 1968 during the now famous civil rights “March on Washington” King delivered a 17-minute speech. His now famous passage was a departure from his written text possibly inspired when a supporter shouted behind him, “Tell them about the dream!”—King said;
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
Dr King and the Vietnam War
By 1967 King also opposed the Vietnam War because he believed it took money and resources that could have been spent on social programs at home. He said at the time, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
He stated that North Vietnam “did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands” and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children”.
He stated after President Johnson’s January 1968 State of the Union speech: “We need to make clear in this political year, to congressmen on both sides of the aisle and to the president of the United States, that we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer vote for men who continue to see the killings of Vietnamese and Americans as the best way of advancing the goals of freedom and self-determination in Southeast Asia.
King’s opposition to the Vietnam war cost him significant support among his white allies, including President Johnson, Billy Graham, union leaders and powerful publishers.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also renamed for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.
Though legislation for a commemorative federal holiday was first introduced four days after the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, it still took 15 years to create the now federal holiday. The King Holiday legislation was submitted annually with petitions containing six million signatures endorsing the holiday were submitted to congress. Public pressure mounted in 1982 and 1983 during civil rights marches in Washington and congress passed the King Holiday legislation in 1983. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan as a federal holiday in 1986.
Several states resisted celebrating the holiday. Opponents argued that the entire civil rights movement should be honored rather than one man. Several southern states included celebrations for confederate generals on that day. Arizona voters approved the holiday in 1992 after a tourist boycott. New Hampshire changed the name of Civil Rights Day to Martin Luther King Jr Day in 1999.
The first Africans to arrive in Hawai’i were deckhands on merchant and whaling ships, and came from Cape Verde (off the coast of West Africa), the United States and the Caribbean. These early Africans ended their maritime careers and settled in Hawai’i. A number of them were successful musicians, businessmen, and respected government officials
One American-born African was Anthony D. Allen (1774–1835) an ex-slave. He came to Hawaii in 1810 as a whaler. He became a steward of Kamehameha I and within a decade came to own twelve houses and a farm, and run a boarding house, bowling alley and hospital. The first two leaders of the Royal Hawaiian Band under Kamehameha III were Oliver and George Washington Hyatt (1815–1870) who were also African-Americans.
Dr Martin Luther King’s Legacy
King’s main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights for black Americans. Just days after King’s assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). This legislation was seen as a tribute to Dr King’s struggle in his final years to combat discrimination in the U.S.
MLK Day in Maui
This holiday is promoted as a day of national and community service, a time to reflect upon the principles of interracial cooperation, equality, and social change through nonviolent resolution of conflict, dedication to global peace, social justice, economic security, and the eradication of poverty as espoused by Dr. King. Efforts are made seek the involvement of business, government, labor, religious, ethnic, educational, and community service groups, as well as all segments of the civilian and military population.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of Peace begins in Maui on Monday January 21st, 2019, with the 2nd annual Run for Peace. This is the only 2 mile race/walk in the nation. It begins at 7:30 a.m.
The run is followed by Bell Ringing at the Stone Hope Monument Ceremony at 8;30 a.m., 200 High Street by the Main Stage at the Flag Pole. At 9:00 a.m. we will begin the Dr. King Symbolic March around the County Building in Wailuku.
The Celebration continues until 2:00 p.m. with the reading of a proclamation, speeches, cultural presentations, food vendors, and entertainment.
Contact: Gwyn Gorg , President at 808 878 8434 , MLK Coordinator: Ayin Adams 808 276 6864
There are also various gatherings throughout Maui including a peaceful gathering at Baldwin Beach along Maui’s North shore outside of Paia.
Mahalo for visiting and may hope and peace be enjoyed by you and your family on this wonderful holiday honoring a remarkable man…Aloha Nui Loa!