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Monday, January 15, 2018
MLK and the Aloha Spirit
By Brett Kulbis @ 8:56 PM :: 5302 Views :: Hawaii History

 

MLK and the Aloha Spirit!

From Honolulu Republican Party 

On this holiday we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his great dream of peace and justice.  We celebrate the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to a Nation divided.  The timeless values he inspired through his examples of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and community teach us to fight evil, not people, and to ask ourselves, “what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?”

He was also inspired by our “Aloha Spirit” after his first visit to Hawaii in 1959.

A: “Akahai,” meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness;

L: “Lokahi,” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

O: “Oluolu,” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

H: “Haahaa,” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

A: “Ahonui,” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

On September 17, 1959, just weeks after Hawaii became the 50th State and during his first visit to Hawaii, Dr. King addressed the First Legislature of the State’s House of Representatives.  Dr. King thanked Hawaii for offering the nation “a noble example” of progress “in the area of racial harmony and racial justice.”

“I come to you with a great deal of appreciation and great feeling of appreciation, I should say, for what has been accomplished in this beautiful setting and in this beautiful state of our Union. As I think of the struggle that we are engaged in in the South land, we look to you for inspiration and as a noble example, where you have already accomplished in the area of racial harmony and racial justice what we are struggling to accomplish in other sections of the country, and you can never know what it means to those of us caught for the moment in the tragic and often dark midnight of man’s inhumanity to man, to come to a place where we see the glowing daybreak of freedom and dignity and racial justice.” Martin Luther King Jr. address to the First Legislature of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Upon completion of his address he received a standing ovation.

Dr. King would visit Hawaii a number of times during his life, including one year before the historic Selma march.  On that visit, he spoke at a conference for the Hawaii State Human Rights Commission—the first commission of its kind in the United States.  Dr. King found the Islands multiethnic population and aloha spirit to be an inspirational source of “racial harmony” as the struggle of African-Americans made headlines across the U.S.

On March 25, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African-Americans had been campaigning for voting rights.  Dr. King told the assembled crowd, ‘‘There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes.’’ (King, ‘‘Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March,’’ 121).

In a symbolic action of support and solidarity, a five-person contingent from Hawaii flew to Selma to participate in the iconic march.  In photos of the march, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other demonstrators can be seen wearing the symbolic Hawaiian flower leis they were presented by the Hawaii contingency.

Through his activism and inspirational speeches Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played a leading role in ending the segregation of African-Americans, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 3706 as Public Law 98-144, to amend title 5, United States Code, to make the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a legal public holiday on the third Monday in January.  In his remarks upon signing the bill President Reagan said, “When I was thinking of the contributions to our country of the man that we're honoring today, a passage attributed to the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes to mind. ‘Each crisis brings its word and deed.’ In America, in the fifties and sixties, one of the important crises we faced was racial discrimination. The man whose words and deeds in that crisis stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left on record what he wanted us to remember about him. He wanted us talk about how he fought peacefully for justice:

“I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.  I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

So today, let us not only remember, celebrate and act, but serve like Dr. King and live by the Aloha Spirit we know — we all can do that!

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