WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - He is considered our nation's foremost Civil Rights leader, who not only helped change the discourse about equality in our nation, but the world. Monday, Honolulu paid tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with a parade through Waikiki and Unity Rally at Kapiolani Park in his honor.
The parade down Kalakaua Avenue began at 9 a.m. Monday, and brought together more than 50 different groups carrying multiple messages. It showcased perfectly one of Dr. King's preeminent tenets. Stand up, and be heard.
"What do we want? Justice Now. Who are we? We are the many," chatted labor union members from Unite Here Local 5 who echoed the language of not only Occupy Honolulu protestors but the language of local singer Makana's protest song titled, "We Are The Many".
Makana sang his signature song during a pre-rally event at the Magic Island parking lot where marchers gathered. He pumped up participants who say they have Dr. King to thank for giving everyone a stronger voice no matter what their challenge or cause.
Local 5 protested Hyatt Waikiki management; women marched against violence and black men in support of stronger African-American families.
"Our cardinal principals are manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. And those things are very important in how a man raises his family," said Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Vice-President Michael Green.
One of the vehicles that will always be present in the annual MLK Day parade is a sanitation vehicle. That's because in 1968 during the time of King's assassination, he had come to Memphis to support the rights of African American sanitation workers who were seeking better wages and benefits.
The Royal Hawaiian and Pacific Fleet bands performed. There was support for our troops, and veterans in need, and from those want to keep them out of harm's way.
"End the wars now," chanted protestors to beating drums while some held anti-war signs and covered their faces with bandanas.
"Our group in particular is concerned about the issue of peace and we're here to say that Dr. King would have been very concerned and speaking out unequivocally against the wars," said Kyle Kajihiro of Hawaii Peace & Justice.
Teachers and students marched for education; gay, lesbian and transgendered community for equal rights; and members of the faithful, to bring us all together.
"We are proud of King who was a prophet of God who cared about all the people," said former State Senator and Pastor of Kahaluu United Methodist Church, Bob Nakata. "His job was to tell the rulers of the people to take care of the people, and if you don't, God will take away your leadership," he laughed.
The Low family of Pearl City brought their two young children to watch the parade.
"Now she's a little bit older and able to understand and respect and kind of celebrate his life and all that he's done for everybody," said Krisi Low of her 7-year-old daughter, Taylor.
"He fought for freedom and he fought for civil rights so we can all be together," said Taylor.
"It's important to show everyone's point of view and everybody's important, no matter what their color race, sex, age," said David Low, Taylor's dad.
It's a message that lives on, decades after Dr. King's death.
"He didn't just fight for African-Americans," said Mia Williams, vice-president of Radford High School's new African American Club."He fought for all colored people and everyone so that we can all live equally in an equal world."
King's legacy teaches love and tolerance, in a world where we agree to disagree, especially over politics.
"We're family because there's only one God," said Daiva Dasa with the Hare Krishna Society in Hawaii.
"So we see that all of the great leaders whether it was Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or JFK or Obama, whoever is promoting peace in the world, that they really need to look at how we can become more God Conscious." Then he chuckled, "Let's put God in the White House"
A belief that Dr. King himself, as a man of faith, might have supported if it meant more tolerance within a nation that was founded upon the very principles of freedom and justice for all.