LIHUE — From keiki being pushed through the grassy fields adjacent to the Lihue Neighborhood Center, to kupuna who used canes for support, over 100 Kauai residents marched and sang songs of peace and aloha Monday morning to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Today is for celebrating the values that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, which are to be kind, cooperate and that we all have equal rights,” said Annaleah Atkinson, event chair for Interfaith Roundtable. “But what I love about this is that if you look around, it’s one big learning center.”
After the march, the community gathered inside the neighborhood center and listened to speakers and recognized the accomplishments of Dr. King and his impact on the world.
“I wanted this to be something for everyone on this island to see how many people there are who celebrate peace and celebrate love,”Atkinson said.
Rev. Diane Decker, staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living Kauai, wanted everyone in attendance to know how important coming together in peace and harmony truly is.
“We are here to stand together, with all people, whether they are brown, black, worship differently or the same as us, whether they are LGBTQIA or straight,” she said. “We are all one family under God.”
Keeping an open dialogue and appreciation for another were key elements of Monday’s celebration. Makani Sabala-Bactad, a senior at Kauai High School, marched with peers and joined in the conversation afterwards.
He carried a sign that quoted Dr. King on negating darkness in our lives.
“With all the recent event that are happening around the world, they really impact our community,” he said. “And I feel like events like this really bring people together and help us to see a greater outreach in what we’re trying to accomplish, which is a greater harmony between everyone here.”
Sabala-Bactad not only came out to support his community, but also to support his club from Kauai High School. A part of the newly founded Peer Mediation group at Kauai High, Sabala-Bactad wanted his classmates to learn the importance of conflict resolution.
“We basically help out at our school and help other students who have problems and we try to bring them together to help solve issues,” he said. “And that’s really what we’re here celebrating today.”
Spreading the message of peace isn’t just a teaching of Dr. King. Spreading aloha is a way of life on Kauai, Atkinson said.
“If there’s enough of us people saying that peace will work, then other people might give it a try.”