Freedom Marchers in Selma edit

For some, having a day off from work or school to celebrate an American Civil Rights activist may seem out of place or unnecessary, especially for those born and raised in Hawaiʻi. Today I invite you to look through a different lens.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not only fight for Black/African Americans but for all people. Dr. King stood for equality and social change, peaceful conflict resolution, and social justice in every aspect of one’s life. His actions proved that one does not have to hold political power to create change or to stand for a purpose. Martin Luther King once said “everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You do not have to have a college degree to serve. You do not have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Dr. King was also inspired by Hawaiʻi and values that are held here. When Dr. King first came to Hawaiʻi, it was during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. He was inspired by the spirit of aloha that resides in these sacred islands, and the Hawaiians who lead by example through doing.

If you feel lead to take charge and stand for the Hawaiʻi values that inspired Dr. King, there are many avenues you can choose. You could participate in traditional Hawaiian events and/or activities that you and your family design in order to give back and take care. Take some time today and gather your family and friends and find a loʻi, a park, or a beach and mālama the ʻāina. Spend some time with kūpuna and plant something or weed a garden. If ʻāina based activities are not within reach, help a friend you know is in need with some kind of service. Paint a room. Visit kūpuna and spend time playing a game, singing a song, going for a walk, listening to their stories or anything you can dream up that can help another and lift their spirits. In those moments you exude greatness, you become the living message of aloha, and you become the healer.

Together we create the change by being people of greatness through aloha.

~ Trina Jones-Artis, graduate student and POL project assistant


Above:  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and fellow Freedom Marchers don fresh plumeria lei prior to their protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. (©AFP/Getty Images)

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