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AfriGeneas Western Frontier Forum

Blacks and Hawaii's Plantations

The first Blacks to come to Hawaii to work on Hawaii's plantation arrived from the South in January 1901. They were recruited from Tennessee and Alabama and later Mississippi and Louisiana. They were recruited by agents for the plantation owners on Maui and the island of Hawaii and the HSPA(Hawaii Sugar Planters Association). The initial thought by the plantation owners thatrecruiting laborers from the South who had prior experience working on Southern planations would help solve their labor shortage problems. There were mostly famlies recruited, but single men came with the initial group of 300.Working conditions were so bad on the plantations that some did not fulfill their contracts, especially the single men.If a contract was not completed the worker would have to pay for his family's passage back to the mainland. The experiment to bring the African American workers to Hawaii became mired in bureaucracy and the ambivalence among leaders of the sugar industry in Hawaii. The Maui News in 1902 stated that "they came here to better their conditions and whether misrepresentations were made to them or not, the truth is that they have not found here what they expected, and the rate of wages which the plantations pay, they cannot more than hope to merely keep body and soul together". The African Americans who saw Hawaii as a possibility for a new life were disappointed. Those who left the islands sought a new place that would allow their dreams for freedom and a better life come true. Their dreams had been deferred. Those of the original group that remained found a niche in Hawaii and faded into the multi racial mix.

An African American community did not grow as those of the Chinese, Japanese,Filipino and Portuguese plantation communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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