Star Advertiser: Diversity and unity are focus of MLK Day parade

(Source: Star Advertiser)

January 22, 2019

By: Nina Wu

Honolulu-Hawaii NAACP President Alphonso Braggs talks about the legacy Dr. King has left future generation.
Video: Craig T. Kojima

Thousands participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration parade, which began Monday morning at Magic Island at Ala Moana Regional Park, wound its way through Waikiki and ended with an afternoon unity rally at Kapiolani Park.

Participants from churches, schools and various organizations marched; rode unicycles, hoverboards, cars and trolleys; and carried signs with messages including “Be the Dream” and “Black Lives Matter” to celebrate the civil rights leader, who would have been 90 last week.

Spectators, including visitors and residents, lined Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to watch.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the celebration here, organized by the Hawaii Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition, and the 60th year since King first visited Hawaii to address the state Legislature, just weeks after statehood. At the time, King said he looked to Hawaii as an inspiration and “noble example” of racial harmony and justice.

Suzanne Williams watched along Kalakaua Avenue for her son, Caden Forsgren, a fourth-grader who was marching in the parade with Assets School for the first time.

“I think it’s important to support these kinds of things,” said Williams, “and teach our kids, the next generation, to know that everybody should be treated with dignity and respect.”

One of Honolulu’s buses also participated in the parade with its digital message board reading, “In memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.”

“I think it is very important for those of us who love the life and legacy of Dr. King to really come together, regardless of our differences, and find that common entity to which we can all work on, whether it is schools, education, health, whatever it is, social justice,” said Alphonso Braggs, branch president of the NAACP, at Kapiolani Park. “All of us have a passion about the way that we need to resolve these issues — and if we simply take the time to first respect our differences and then come together to work on that common entity, that’s going to help us make America the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”

Howard Covington Sr., grand master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Hawaii, said it was important to keep King’s dream alive. King paved the way, but there is still much work to do, he said.

“For us, as men and women of color, it’s always important to try to keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King alive,” he said.

At Kapiolani Bandstand following the parade, Kahu Kordell Kekoa offered a Hawaiian blessing and noted that in Selma, Ala., the site of an epic march for equal voting rights, King wore a white carnation lei given to him by the Rev. Abraham Akaka of Kawaiaha‘o Church.

“Today I wear that lei to honor what we do: celebrating aloha,” he said.

Gladys Singleton of Makaha attends the celebration for the civil rights leader every year.

“I remember Dr. King — I met him when he came to our church in New York — and his father, Martin Sr.,” said Singleton, a volunteer at Iolani Palace. “We have to be together, that’s the thing. Dr. MLK had a dream that we would all one day stand together, and you can see the country is just breaking apart.”

What struck her about King when she met him decades ago, she said, was how calm he was. She described him as “a dynamic speaker but a very calm person when he talked.”

Carolyn Golojuch, president of the group Rainbow Family 808, marched with a double-sided sign that depicted a tearful Lady Liberty hugging a man of color on the front, and in the back, the words “Can’t believe we still have to protest this s—.”

Golojuch said she has marched in every MLK parade since 1996. She wanted to remind people what the Statue of Liberty stands for, and was critical of the current administration’s treatment of refugees at the border.

“Some of what we’re doing now is we’re justifying persecution of refugees,” she said. “They’re running from oppression and death, and yet we want to build a wall. We don’t need a wall. We need love.”

Jamie McOuat marched along the route with the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, with her son, Kaimana, age 4.

McOuat said Kaimana learned about King from Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band, a children’s band led by Uncle Wayne Watkins, and his song “Happy Birthday Martin.” Kaimana carried a sign that said, “We’re all human beans!” while McOuat carried a sign that said, “The human race is not a competition.”

“We always celebrate Martin Luther King Day,” said McOuat.

Gov. David Ige issued a special message Monday recognizing the MLK parade and rally, calling Hawaii a truly special place “where diversity yields harmony.” The state Senate issued a proclamation Monday honoring and commending King on the two significant anniversaries.

Via: Star Advertiser

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