‘Equality and compassion’

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Tom Lindsey stands in the back of the room at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Puanani Rogers speaks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Lihue.

LIHUE — When Puanani Rogers was asked to speak at Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, she didn’t know what she would say.

But she accepted the invitation. And when she stood before the crowd of about 100 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, she said she was glad she did.

“I want to honor him and I do want to remember him for what he did,” she said. “He was one of my heroes. I hated racism. I hated that. It was not ke Akua.”

At one point, she looked at the people seated and listening to her, men and women, and she smiled. She was pleased to see what she said were many beautiful faces and races.

God’s laws, she said, should govern the land.

“Not the laws of man that do not understand any of our cultural beliefs,” Rogers said

The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was sponsored by the Interfaith Roundtable of Kauai, which promotes unity among people of different faiths and philosophies.

It was a full day with media presentations of inspiring talks by Dr. King in the morning, roundtable discussions about housing, leadership and peace in the afternoon, and wrapped up with songs and passionate speeches into the early evening.

King, who was assassinated in 1968, dedicated his life to fighting for equal rights and justice through non-violence. The national holiday honoring King’s birthday was established in 1983.

Steve Backinoff, an organizer, said that he loves Kauai and is grateful for the people and the opportunities he has been given here.

Backinoff read a quote from Dr. King: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality.”

“However, we do have challenges and can do better,” he wrote. “Coming together in council to share our concerns and our wise and creative solutions as well as celebrating with inspirational music is the goal of the event.”

Hari Khalsa, IROK co-chair, said he wanted to stress the concept of reverence for people.

“Equality and compassion, as opposed to racism or heritage or lineage,” he said. “I’m all about legacy, not lineage.”

Kauai’s Larry Rivera played his song, “The Whole World Looks to Hawaii,” which he said was inspired by President John F. Kennedy.

“We are proud to be of this nation,” he sang.”We share our love with the world.”

Rogers said she has deep roots on Kauai.

“I am indigenous to this island. I get laughed at because I say I’m indigenous to this island,” she said. “According to scientific law, indigenous means floral and fauna. I am indigenous, born on this island. I’m growing from this island. My ancestors are buried on this island.”

She talked of the overthrow of Hawaii and Queen Lilliuokalani on Jan. 17, 1893, and Hawaii’s annexation a few years later as a U.S. territory.

“They took away the power of us to self-rule our island. They took our sovereignty,” she said. “We are still sovereign. We are learning as we go how we can correct the wrongs that were done to us.”

The key, she said, is to go forth with aloha.

“You have some successes with that. You can get what you want, with aloha,” she said.

Rogers said she likes to believe she is spiritually led and culturally based.

“I don’t think we will succeed if we don’t have ke Akua with us, leading us, our sovereign leader,” she said.

She referred to faith, hope and charity as she sang a final song.

“When we have all of this, then the whole world will be blessed,” she said.

  1. Ken Conklin January 21, 2020 5:43 am Reply

    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero in the struggle for racial equality and desegregation. He was not merely a racial partisan for his own racial group selfishly demanding equality for his group — he was a champion for the concept that all humans are equal in the eyes of God and should be treated equally under the law regardless of race. That’s why it’s so sad and discordant to see every year on this holiday Hawaiian sovereignty activists trying to grab onto Dr. King’s coattails as though their demands for racial supremacy are somehow aligned with his noble vision.

    The Hawaiian creation legend tells us that the gods mated and gave birth to these islands as living beings, and then mated again and gave birth to the primordial ancestor from whom all humans are descended. Thus we are children of the gods and brothers/sisters to the ‘aina. But Hawaiian racial partisans twist that beautiful legend to say that that genealogy pertains solely to people who have a drop of Hawaiian blood, while others lacking the blood are outside the family of gods and ‘aina. Therefore, they say, ethnic Hawaiians have a god-given right to rule Hawaii, while everyone else (the non-indigenous settlers) is merely a second-class resident with no inherent right to be here. That’s not what the creation legend says, and most certainly is not anything Dr. King would approve of.

    This news article reports Ms. Rodgers’ repeated assertion that she is “indigenous” to Kaua’i (therefore deserves supremacy above mere settlers). She drags out the bogus victimhood narrative comparing Lili’uokalani to Dr. King merely because she cleverly surrendered without a fight to avoid her own people getting injured or killed. That absurdity has been circulating for two decades — Copy/paste the title of my webpage debunking it into Google, including the quote marks: “Was Liliuokalani Really Like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi?”

  2. Debra Kekaualua January 22, 2020 8:11 am Reply

    mAhalo Puanani for stepping up and stepping out to truth and integrity. We know well the Conklin liar that is the only person who commented on your accepting the invitation to speak on Martin Luther King Day! not MLK which like NH nh, destroys the legacy, due to lots and lots of folks who are afraid as well as they have no clue who MLK was and like every americanization “jones” Act here in Hawaii-nei they will turn alphabet letters that represent a bonafide hero into a nonbody that was kakked and hated because of his fine words and presentation. We have experienced the same agenda and finally almost 13 decades later(not 2 as con-man opines)! We have far more truth than all of these peoples put together, and Con-klin is the kane who should seek mental illness assistance with the other commentators who never have any ideas or plans that will huli them out from here on a FEMA prison barge! No other option for Liars and the terroristic momentum they think they will prevail on its usages. Scayed that they dont belong here and so be it, because as you see and read TGI online, you can visualize the absurdity of the foreigners like the commentator , the Rev, sel-appointed hippy reverend homeless boat lady, Mr. and Mrs Mann, mr Crackenhead and many more that spew their fake verbiage to make them feel happy, when they are every bit the problem that the military politicojudiciary guilty stolen mailbox hui is and that is being exposed, one at a time. GAME OVER.

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