Sridevi and Vishakha of Hare Krishna danced before the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade yesterday at Ala Moana Park. The annual parade went through Waikiki and ended at Kapiolani Park.

Marchers rally for
King and queen

Supporters gather around the
isles for Martin Luther King Jr.
and Queen Lydia Liliuokalani

Thousands marched down Kalakaua Avenue yesterday in an event that could only happen in Hawaii: a joint commemoration of 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Queen Lydia Liliuokalani and the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Yesterday, Jan. 17, marked the official King holiday and the 112th anniversary of the overthrow.

Supporters of each cause marched together, some saying they thought about the separate struggles each fought for freedom and against racism.

Similar gatherings took place throughout the islands. On Maui some 30 people from various Hawaiian groups, including Na Kupuna O Maui, waved signs along the sidewalk outside Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului.

They held a number of Hawaii state flags in an upside-down position, indicating distress. "We're here to let you guys know we still here," the Rev. Kenneth Ho'opai Jr. told passing motorists through a loudspeaker.

"We're going to continue to be here until you guys get it right."

On the Big Island some 150 people, including native Hawaiians, conducted the Liliuokalani observance along with those honoring King at a state park in Hilo.

Native Hawaiians held a demonstration yesterday near the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului in observance of the Jan. 17, 1893, overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani.

Moanikeala Akaka, a former trustee with the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said more than half of the homeless in Hawaii are native Hawaiians.

"Our people are in dismal straits. Hawaii is becoming a have and have-not place," she said.

In Honolulu and along Waikiki's parade route, the dual commemoration drew large crowds. "As long as we still have injustice and discrimination, we need to march," Alphonso Braggs, president of the Honolulu-Hawaii NAACP, told a large crowd.

And yes, he told his listeners, "individual action can effect positive change."

Many people came to Kapiolani Park for the politics and speeches, but others came for the music, food and the cool ocean breeze. Stalls sold catfish, barbecue and collard greens, shave ice, fried noodles, sushi and musubi.

There were civil-rights advocates and sovereignty activists along with Freemasons, war protesters and teens wearing Martin Luther King or red Hawaiian rights T-shirts. There were gospel singers, evangelical groups, Hari Krishnas and Baptists. Many in the crowd wore the familiar red shirts of the Hawaiian rights movement. Foot-stomping gospel music brought grandmas to their feet with the beat.

King, a Baptist minister like his father, rallied the civil-rights movement, and in 1963 he gave his famous "I have a dream" speech before more than 200,000 marchers in Washington, D.C.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King continued to work for civil rights until his assassination on the balcony of a Memphis motel on April 4, 1968.

Queen Lydia Liliuokalani inherited the throne and a weakened monarchy from her brother King Kalakaua in 1891. She wanted rights for native Hawaiians and a new constitution at a time when others plotted the end of the monarchy and a new republic in its place.

On Jan. 17, 1893, she was overthrown. And in 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States, and the queen was forced to give up her throne.

Wearing his red Hawaiian sovereignty T-shirt, Poka Laenui of Living Nation told the crowd: "There are similarities between Dr. King and the queen. Both were people of peace and justice. One is identified with an American civil rights movement, and the other with the Hawaiian human rights movement."

"We marched to show solidarity for a great American patriot," said John Condello, chaplain with the Honolulu chapter of the Lodge of Freemasons. "More than anything, Martin Luther King taught us what the Constitution means in modern times."

Star-Bulletin reporters Gary T. Kubota and
Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.

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