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Tuesday, January 18, 2000



By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Ha'aheo Guanson, right, recipient of the Hawaii Peacemaker
Award, sings "We Shall Overcome" with Church of the
Crossroads parishioners.

Church honors local
woman for promoting
world peace

By Mary Adamski


A Honolulu woman who is involved in planning a July peace conference in South Africa and the summer kickoff of the United Nations "Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence" is the recipient of the Hawaii Peacemaker Award.

The award, presented annually by Church of the Crossroads in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., was given last night to Ha'aheo Guanson, former director of the Spark Matsunaga Peace Institute at University of Hawaii.

"When we lift up an individual, we are acknowledging all the unsung heroes and heroines," Guanson told an audience of 100 last night at a service capping the day of activities honoring the slain 1960s civil rights leader.

Guanson is vice chairwoman of the American Fellowship of Reconciliation, an 85-year-old national interfaith organization dedicated to creating a world without war, to which King belonged. She is co-chairman with Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in planning the International Conference on Non-Violence in Durban, South Africa. She is with the Center for Global Non-Violence in Hawaii, part of a network of unaffiliated centers.

She urged the local crowd to organize participation to dedicate the first decade of the 21st century to nonviolence around the world in tune with the United Nations proclamation.

Guanson said her 35 years as a peace and justice advocate had roots in her childhood in Tokyo, where she saw the effects of World War II and the Korean War.

Attorney Andre Wooten reminded the crowd about less-remembered text from King's famous "I have a dream" speech. "He talked about this country's promissory note ... written in the blood of kidnapped and enslaved African Americans ... a check not cashed, when President Andrew Johnson vetoed a bill that would have given each African American 40 acres and a mule."

"Reparations were paid to the Japanese for the victimization in camps during World War II" and Germany is discussing reparations to Jewish people whose work in forced labor camps benefitted major manufacturers in World War II. He said America has not come to grips with implementing reparations for slaves because of the broad span of history involved. "Until we do ... there will be a hole in the American soul," said Wooten, quoting King.

The University Avenue church, which was a sanctuary for anti-war demonstrators and a center of civil rights activism in the 1960s, resounded to an echo of its past as the crowd concluded the program with "We Shall Overcome."

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