CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Saniel Honyaktewa, third from left, and Terissa Josytewa, following, were two Junior ROTC cadets marching yesterday in the Martin Luther King Day parade in Waikiki. The cadets are from Hopi High School in Arizona. CLICK FOR LARGE
King parade evokes fight for rights
A broken right foot didn't stop Mililani resident Alexis Conner from driving to Waikiki to find a shady spot along Kalakaua Avenue to watch the parade in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
"That's why I'm here today, to honor him and keep the dream alive," Conner, 56, said as she sat in her folding chair near the edge of the sidewalk.
There are things that she's able to do because of King's efforts and leadership, she said.
Conner was among the hundreds of people who lined the sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to watch the 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Royal Hawaiian Band as well as various church groups, state organizations and social groups participated in the parade to remember King, who was assassinated in April 1968.
Festivities followed at Kapiolani Park after the parade ended.
"There is still a big fight for equality and justice," said the Rev. Kaleo Patterson, president of the Pacific Justice Reconciliation Center and an instructor of at the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace at UH-Manoa.
Patterson noted that there is a special link between King and Queen Liliuokalani. Both were Christians and had a commitment to nonviolence, said Patterson, also of Ka Hana O Ke Akua Church in Waianae.
At the bandstand, the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, chief operating officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, based in Baltimore, spoke to hundreds of attendees.
Rivers said he attended college at the height of the black-power movement and rejected King's message of nonviolence because it did not make sense to him. Racism was prevalent in his South Carolina hometown, he said. "We had some mean people, some racists."
But his mindset changed when King delivered an unforgettable sermon called "The Drum Major Instinct."
"He talked about you'll never be great by having people serve you. You'll only be great by serving others. And the greater the service, the greater the leader," Rivers said. "And that just struck me."
King also said in his sermon that one does not have to have a great deal of money or prestige to serve others. He said the secret to greatness is service, Rivers said. "If you serve, you can be great, which means all of us can be great."
"Martin Luther King help changed my mind," Rivers added. "'The Drum Major Instinct' was a life-changing encounter. ... It changed my life."
He described celebrating Martin Luther King Day in Hawaii as special because of the diverse composition of the crowds that filled the sidewalks to pay homage to the late civil rights leader as well as the warmth and aloha spirit from parade-goers.
"Hawaii is a great testimony to the impact of King," Rivers said.
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