Hawaii Stories of Change

Hawaii Stories of Change — Kokua Hawaii Oral History Project

A message from Professor Davianna McGregor, January of 2019

Aloha! I am happy to recognize this generous and significant donation of the book “Hawaii Stories of Change - Kokua Hawaii Oral History Project” to the Department Of Ethnic Studies, under its Center for Oral History. The book’s collection of interviews, focusing on the beginnings of the Hawaiian Renaissance in the early 1970s, is the first of its kind and includes narratives from a broad range of people who contributed toward the advancement of human rights in Hawaii. As Kokua Hawaii leader Lawrence Kamakawiwoole, Kalani Ohelo, Henry Niheu and Edwina Akaka point out in their interviews, their early influences came from social movements in the United States, including the peace movement, and minority rights groups, such as the Black Panthers, and the Young Lords. Kokua Hawaii and its supporters found themselves facing their own unique problems in Hawaii, requiring a multi-ethnic approach to finding solutions. Hawaii remains one of the few, if not only states, where minorities combined represent the majority of the voting population and enjoy a common bond through successfully uniting in labor struggles since the 1940s.

When several poor minority communities in Hawaii faced evictions in the 1970s, groups of volunteer organizers and their associates were willing to stand between the tenants and the bulldozers. The book “Hawaii Stories of Change” includes interviews with these Kokua Hawaii organizers, community leaders and associates who helped to successfully resist the evictions and contributed to the beginnings of a serious look at land abuses and reform in Hawaii. This digital book, serving as a historical resource and providing public access globally, was funded by a grant from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, in addition to help from the Hawaii People’s Fund.