MLK Day observed in Hawaii
Advertiser Staff, Wire Reports
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is being observed today with a parade and unity rally.
The parade began at Magic Island and followed a route along Kalakaua Avenue through Waikiki. It ended at Kapiolani Park, where the rally was held.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition of Hawaii says the theme of this year’s parade comes from one of King’s statements: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
Entertainment will continue through the day at the bandstand. There will be ethnic food booths and games for children.
Earlier today, President Barack Obama served plates of steaming hot lunches to the needy, one of several ways the nation’s first black president paid tribute to King.
Obama also scheduled a White House talk with black elders and their grandchildren about the movement for racial equality that King led until he was assassinated in 1968. The president also was to speak later today during a musical celebration of King’s legacy at the Kennedy Center.
His outing was part of an array of holiday tributes.
Worshippers at King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta heard Princeton University scholar Cornel West deliver a passionate keynote address, urging them not to “sanitize” King’s legacy.
In Washington, Obama spent the day with King observances.
“How are you sir? God bless you,” the president said, greeting one man among the dozens of men and women who filed into the dining room at SOME, or So Others Might Eat.
The organization, just a short ride from the White House, provides the poor and homeless with food and other services. Obama handed them pre-assembled lunch plates of chicken, potato salad, mixed vegetables and bread.
He brought the whole family: first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, mother-in-law Marian Robinson and some aides.
Mrs. Obama poured hot coffee while 8-year-old Sasha tagged along and handed out packets of sweetener. Mrs. Robinson walked around serving danishes from a baking sheet. Malia, 11, walked among the rows of diners, chatting with them and shaking hands.
In Atlanta, West urged his audience to remember King’s call to help others and not simply enshrine his legacy in “some distant museum.” King should be remembered as a vital person whose powerful message was once even considered dangerous by the FBI, West told those gathered in the church where King preached from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.
“I don’t want to sanitize Martin Luther King Jr.,” said West, who teaches in Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and is the author of “Race Matters” and 19 other books.
He later added, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t even mention his name without shivering and shuddering.”
A march is also planned in Montgomery, Ala., where King gained renown leading a bus boycott in protest of segregation during the 1950s.
King, the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the only black American whose birthday is a national holiday.