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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 16, 2010

Activities honor King's memory

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Around the state this weekend, residents are honoring the man who has become the symbol of freedom from oppression with a series of activities that range from a bell-ringing to plantings in school gardens.

Martin Luther King Jr., who led the country's civil rights movement in the 1960s, was remembered last night in a bell-ringing ceremony at the Honolulu civic center grounds.

The bell-ringing was last night to save money, said MarshaRose Joyner, a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition. Normally it's on a Sunday, but to keep from paying city workers overtime, the event was moved up to last night.

As the Nagasaki Peace Bell tolled, volunteers took up a collection for the victims of the devastating Haiti earthquake that struck earlier this week.

"The bell-ringing is symbolic of the entire 'let freedom ring' movement led by Dr. King," Joyner said. "Dr. King is the symbol of people who struggle everywhere for equality, for justice."

On Monday, the group will hold its 22nd annual parade, dubbed the "People's parade." This year is expected to be about the same size as last year, but because of a rally at the state Capitol opposing same-sex marriage, there will be a police presence at the unity rally at Kapi'olani Park, Joyner said.

The parade begins at 9 a.m. at Magic Island and travels down Kalākaua Avenue to Kapi'olani Park, where a unity rally will be held, including music, food and entertainment.

Last year, more than 1,000 people marched in the parade, representing many groups, and more than 3,000 people attended the rally, Joyner said.

Also on Monday, nearly 300 doctors and staff from Kaiser Permanente will fan out on Maui, O'ahu and the Big Island, where they will weed, plant at school gardens and befriend seniors.

"Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is proud to join the rest of the nation in declaring Martin Luther King Jr. Day a time to give back to our local communities through volunteerism," Geoffrey Sewell, president and executive medical director of the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, said in a written statement.

On O'ahu, volunteers will prepare a garden for planting at the Waikīkī Elementary School with the help of 'Āina in Schools program, which promotes healthy school lunches and agricultural field trips.

At the same time, the Hawaii Island School Garden Network and Kaiser Permanente physicians and staff will volunteer at Ka Umeke Kaeo Charter Shool in Hilo, Waimea Middle School and Kahakai Elementary School to help in the schools' sustainable garden , weeding, pruning and planting crops.

On Maui, the volunteers will spend time at the Hale Makua Health Services elderly care home, playing games, teaching crafts, serving meals and working to improve the garden.