Maui community celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Maui residents march along Ka’ahumanu Avenue to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 16, 2012.

Kalani Ruidas

By Kalani Ruidas, Features co-editor

KAHULUI – Mauians commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in an event hosted by the African American Heritage Foundation of Maui, today, January 16, 2012.

Participants marched from University of Hawai’i, Maui College, along Ka’ahumanu Avenue to the Hawaiian Canoe Club hale at Hoaloha Beach Park.

There, they shared speeches, dances and songs in honor of Dr. King.

A Kula resident, identified as Jonathan, said, “When I read his words, and I listened to his speeches, I felt a great spirit resonating in his voice and within the depths of my heart.”

A few of the organizations represented in the march were the Hawaii Government Employee Association, Maui Peace Action, Occupy Wall Street Maui, Soul Force, Kihei Canoe Club and UHMC’s Peace Club. Individuals from the community joined in the march as well.

Dr. Ron Harris, secretary of the AAHFM estimated that about 175-200 people were in attendance.

According to AAFM President Ms. Angela Smith, the march was more speedy than expected. In the previous 5 years that this event has been held, the average marching time is usually about one hour, she said. This year, the marchers arrived and settled in at Hawaiian Canoe Club in about 45 minutes.

The first half of the function was set aside for speeches by community members. They shared their personal connections with Dr. King’s beliefs in equality and brotherhood.

Mayor Alan Arakawa made a special appearance with his wife, Ann. Mayor Arakawa said that it was the third Martin Luther King, Jr. ceremony they attended today, but the resolute spirit and energy of those in attendance carried throughout.

He spoke about personal worth and the sense of family that exists in the tight-knit community of Maui County.

“We have to be able to be cognizant that every single person here has, has real worth, that every single person that we have to deal with, we’re dealing with a person. We’re not dealing with a general characteristic, such as race,” he said. “That makes us a society where each person’s worth becomes very important.”

Lunch was served shortly after the mayor’s speech. The Gracious Ladies of Aunty Doll Aricayos performed several hula numbers. The rest of the afternoon’s entertainment included live music, including a song on the nose flute.

Near the end of the day, Ms. Smith said that she was pleased with the way the event played out.

“I’m really happy so many people felt inspired to join [in the march and festivities] today. There was good food, good entertainment and overall we had a good program. The speakers shared many aspects of Martin Luther King’s dream, which continues to the present.  We are the Martin Luther Kings of today,” she said.