Interview: Remembering African American pioneers in Hawaii for Black History Month
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - February is Black History Month! Honolulu-Hawaii NAACP president Alphonso Braggs joined HNN’s Sunrise Weekends about celebrating the contributions of African Americans in the islands.
“This year is the 75th anniversary of President Truman signing an executive order that integrated the armed forces. And so one of the things that we’re focused on throughout the year, is honoring and celebrating the life and legacies of those individuals who truly made a difference in the cause of justice and equality and democracy,” Braggs said. “I think one of the best kept secrets is how African Americans have truly made a footprint within the Hawaiian Islands. I mean, all the way back to King Kamehameha’s band was led by African American band leaders. The first schools public schools were established by African American teachers. A lot of the businesses that thrive during the turn of the previous centuries were about African American businesses.”
“We have Alice Augusta Ball, who was one of the first African American teachers in the UH system. Now first athletic director was a female, African American, Donnis Thompson, she was also the first woman and African American Superintendent of school system here. And by the way, the public school system in the state was also established by an African American woman. And so, you know, when we look at the life and legacy and the contributions of African Americans across the states, I mean, across these islands, they have been monumental, and they continue to thrive today,” he said.
“I think that Hawaii continues to offer the rest of the world and excellent example of what it means to live together in harmony. We’re not perfect, however, we are continuing to press for the truest meaning of the aloha spirit. And I think it as we pause and reflect on Black History Month, the life and legacy and the contributions of those individuals, we get a chance to remind future generations of their contributions and why it is important for us to honor and celebrate collectively, those contributions.”
The Honolulu Museum is celebrating Black History Month with the Honolulu African American Film Festival at the Doris Duke Theatre featuring films and shorts from the African diaspora and with ties to Hawai’i. For information, visit honolulumuseum.org.
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