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Hawai‘i leaders commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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Miyamoto Photograph Collection, UH Mānoa Library

Today, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy to fighting for equality.

“On this day, we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision of a country where people of all colors are treated equally,” Hawai‘i State Rep. Jill Tokuda wrote on social media.

Hawai‘i State Sen. Brian Schatz posted on social media that Dr. King visited Hawai‘i in 1959, and spoke to the to the legislature, commending the state as an exemplar of racial justice: “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.”


“As we remember his words and actions, we must continue fighting for equality, countering bigotry with kindness, and standing up for what is right,” Sen. Schatz wrote.

Dr. King came to Hawai‘i again in 1964 and delivered a speech to UH Mānoa students, faculty, staff, and community members on the subject of “Progress Toward Desegregation” at Andrews Outdoor Theatre. About 10,000 listeners jammed the seats in the outdoor amphitheater, filling the grass in the center and spilling over onto the lawn outside the wall to hear King describe how his people are using, “moral means to achieve moral ends.

Hawai‘i State Sen. Mazie Hirono also took to Facebook to commemorate the civil rights champion.


“His leadership helped mobilize our country to pursue the right to vote for all Americans—regardless of color or background,” Sen. Hirono wrote. “But this fight that we thought was won decades ago continues today. State legislatures across the country have passed laws to make it significantly harder for certain people to vote. And the Supreme Court is considering a case that could make it easier for states to suppress voters and subvert election results. It’s become increasingly urgent for Congress to pass comprehensive voting rights legislation.”

MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service – where we are encouraged to provide meaningful change in our communities.

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