AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[HI] Maui County honors its African-American history
Maui County finally honors its African-American history
For better or worse, we all live in historic times. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is every bit as protected by the Constitution as hetero marriage.
The flying of Confederate battle flags at state capitols across the South–an act begun in the mid-20th century in response to the Civil Rights movement–may finally be ending. And everywhere on the Mainland, the fact that disproportionate numbers of African-American suspects get shot and killed by law enforcement (or merely put into prison) is finally making sustained headlines, grisly, often tragic headlines though they may be. History tells us, all of us, that it’s never been easy time to be black in America. Enshrined in the very Constitution (where it would remain until after the Civil War) was the “compromise” that a black person was just three-fifths as important, as vital, as human as a white person. It would take the most murderous war in American history to end the practice of slavery (which, let no one tell you otherwise, started because the Southern states feared abolition), but weak post-war Reconstruction allowed both brutal Jim Crow discrimination and savage Ku Klux Klan death squads to terrorize African-Americans throughout the South for another century.
It’s fitting that on Tuesday, June 30, about a hundred people showed up in Kepaniwai Park to watch the organization African Americans on Maui unveil a new monument that pays tribute to the historical contributions that African-Americans have made in Hawaii. It honors individuals who aren’t well known like Betsey Stockton, and others more popular like President Barack Obama.
“It’s taken 10 years of meetings to make this happen,” Dr. Ayin Adams, a historian who’s written about African-Americans in Hawaii. “Mayor Alan Arakawa has been instrumental. It’s been slow change, but there is change.”
There are, according to the most recent census, about a thousand African-Americans living in Maui County (Adams says there are probably another 300 or so that weren’t counted in the census). Though Hawaii and Maui are among the most ethnically diverse places on earth, the contributions of African-Americans in Hawaii aren’t well known.
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