Saturday, January 13, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 13, 2001

King holiday a festival of diversity in Islands

Gay activists plan protest
What's open and closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Of the thousands who will walk down Kalakaua Avenue on Monday to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only about 15 percent will be African Americans, said Marsha Joyner.

The Hawaii Kai woman who helped get the Monday holiday established in the state 13 years ago says the diversity of Hawaii’s march comes closer to King’s dream than anyplace else in the country.

"Is this our’ holiday?" said Joyner, an African American. "Well, without the total support of the entire community, we could not have had this day or seen it grow as it has."

Ninety-five percent of the organizations that supported the concept of a holiday for King in Hawaii were not African-American, said Joyner, who helped start the movement, gathering signatures on petitions in 1986. "And it has been that way ever since."

Honolulu is the only city in the country in which the city is a sponsor of the Martin Luther King holiday parade and rally, she said.

Marchers will leave Magic Island at 9 a.m., with the rally at Kapiolani Park Bandstand at 11 a.m.

Visitors from all over the world usually line the route, and many follow the marchers into Kapiolani Park for free fun and entertainment, Joyner said.

Diversity will also be in evidence tomorrow at a candlelight bell-ringing service in King’s memory behind City Hall at 6:30 p.m. led by clergy from Central Union Church, Wesley Foundation, Newman Center, Buddhist Study Center, St.

Andrew’s Priory, the Episcopal Church, the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Hindu and Muslim faiths.

An African-American focus will prevail, however, in attention given to charges that many African Americans were disenfranchised by voting and vote-counting in Florida, resulting in what Joyner called "the velvet coup" that gave George W. Bush Jr. the presidency.

A history of King’s life will be presented by Faye Kennedy.

And African-American culture and contributions will be center stage at the rally, with food vendors, ethnic displays and a continuing stream of performers to include Night Train, Next Coast Chemistry, Willie Hitt, Trinity Baptist Church Choir, Drums Hawaii, JP Smoke Train, Victoria and Ron Artis, Marianne Mayfield, Voice and Dance Expressions, Leonard Piggee, Azure McCall and Detroit’s Harvey Thompson.

Observances continue Tuesday with the opening of a City Hall art exhibit on "living harmony." The show will run through Feb. 3.

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