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Native Hawaiian Civil Rights and Movements Essay

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Updated: Jan 28th, 2021

Describe the history of American involvement in Hawaii from initial contact to statehood

Over many years, the issue of Hawaii statehood has been faced by many controversies. Some people have been opposing the idea while others have been supporting the idea, enormously. Some of the main characters in these conflicts were Walter Dillingham and Ingram Stainback (Whitehead 1). Dillingham provided a significant opposition on the statehood where he based his point on alleged communist infiltration.

However, he refrained from showing his views publicly. His efforts in the fight against statehood were in most cases underground. In other words, he did not express his views against statehood in the public, but secretly with other leaders. On the other hand, Stainback publicly opposed the statehood.

However, Stainback was one of the proponents of statehood of the Hawaii before he changed his mind. It is argued that he changed his stand after being convinced by the United States Army on the communist practice taking place on the islands (Whitehead 2). This forced him to change his mind hence supporting the views of others who rejected the statehood. Later in 1950s, Stainback maintained his position even after being removed from the leadership by President Truman (Whitehead 2).

In 1949, the Hawaii Resident Association was formed. This movement experienced a lot of opposition from Stainback and Dillingham. However, the association was supported by the majority of the islands’ most powerful republican families (Whitehead 3).

In 1893, the military personnel and some diplomats from the United States joined hands together with some other groups of people and decided to overthrow the Hawaiian government (Anonymous 2).

Despite of these threats, people from Hawaii continued with their struggle for the statehood. They demanded for equality and opposed oppression by the whites. In 1940, Hawaii was prepared for the statehood. During this year, Hawaii intensified its demands for the statehood where more than 60% of the electorate strongly supported joining the union. Later after the World War II, people demanded for the statehood once more. During this time, the call for statehood was strongly supported than any other time. More people with more fierceness demanded for the statehood. This provided high level of optimism to the leaders as they saw some hope ahead.

There are several reasons to why the statehood was strongly supported. To start with, Hawaiian people wanted to have independence where they can be able to elect their own governor. The people also wanted a system, which would allow them to elect their own president. During that period, people were taxed without voting representation in the congress. Consequently, they felt oppressed. By voting for statehood, people wanted to end the prevailing arrangements where they were taxed without voting representation in Congress.

Later, John Burns was elected as the Hawaii’s delegate in the congress. That was back in 1956. During the vote Burn did not receive any significant support from the whites. However, he received significant support from the Filipinos and the Chinese who were in Hawaii. This achievement significantly promoted the fight for the statehood. It boosted activities of the movements which were demanding for the statehood. Later, Burns succeeded winning support from some of the state governors and the congressional leaders.

After his election in this position, Burns continued with his struggle for the statehood of Hawaii. One of the major contributions which Burns made in this struggle was when he managed to convince Lyndon Johnson that Hawaii deserved statehood as it was ready and prepared to become a state.

On the year 1959, Hawaii Admission Act was passed after which it was signed into law. Later in the same year, vote was conducted to prove whether the Hawaiians were supporting the bill. The results indicated that the Hawaiians were enormously supporting the bill. In other words, the people were opting for statehood. From this year, Hawaii was declared a US state.

Explain how native Hawaiian civil rights have changed during that time period

Since the time of America’s involvement in Hawaii from initial contact to statehood, native Hawaiian civil rights have changed significantly. During this period, the Hawaiians felt exploited because they were denied several privileges. For instance, the people felt that they should have somebody to represent them in the congress to negotiate for their interests. The people also felt that they needed freedom to elect their own president as well as the governor.

Currently, the Hawaii natives are much concerned about their civil rights. The state is very much concerned about the protection of civil rights of the natives. According to the Article I, Section 5, the constitution states that there is no person who will be denied the right to enjoy their civil rights despite of their race, ancestry, sex or religion (Hoshijo par 1). This article provides firm protection for the natives from Hawaii who are prone to discrimination.

These efforts were boosted by the establishment of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. Among some of the things which the commission sought to address included equality in employment, access to public funded services and housing (Hoshijo par 2). In many cases, discrimination was evident in the public services where the system favored the white. When these vices were detected, the commission received investigates and analyzed the complaints of discrimination.

In 1960’s, there were several active civil rights movements in United States of America. These were led by such leaders like Martin Luther the king, Jesse Jackson among other leaders. These movements were determined to raise all the forms of injustices which were laid against the people. The leaders of these movements had discovered that the United States government did not have any good motive to improve on their deplorable conditions (Keonakana par 3).

Therefore, they realized that without any action, their people will continue to be oppressed. Some of the leaders who played a major role during these tensions were Martin Luther king and Malcolm X who bravely fought for the liberation of their people. The main point in these struggles was to achieve equality among all the people i.e. equal opportunities and privileges despite of the race, ancestry or religious backgrounds.

Analyze the future of Native Hawaiian civil rights, including current civil rights movements and demands

Currently, the state of Hawaii is determined in protection of the civil rights. The state is alert on the matter of discrimination bearing in the mind their past history. The state is prone to discrimination in terms of employment, access to the public funded services like health among other things. Therefore, the state has given a lot of attention on the issue of the civil rights. As already seen, the formation of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission is one of these commissions which have been formed for the safety of the natives’ sake (Hoshijo par 3). This commission was fully functioning by the end of 1991 when it officially opened its doors.

There are two theories regarding how the Hawaiian sovereignty should look like (Conklin par 2). On one side, we have the racial separatists who supported the idea that the ethnic Hawaiians be granted the authority over the government institutions, which benefited the Hawaiians (Conklin, par 2). In other words, the Hawaii’s natives wanted to have the freedom to control these institutions rather than being controlled by non natives. The people feared for lack of efficiency if non natives were given the control.

Over the past, several movements have been formed in an attempt to fight for the rights of the natives. Some of these movements included the Native Hawaiian Movement which seeks to fight for the rights of the Hawaii natives in general. Other movements included the Black power which were also advocating for the equality.

Currently, the Hawaiians have intensified their demands in their struggle for their sovereignty and the federal protection. In the future, the Hawaiians are very optimistic that there will be total equality among the people. These projections are based on the current intensification of the struggles against the oppression of all kinds. Over the recent past, the Hawaiian human rights campaigners have decided to solve their political differences in order to see the way forward (Omandam par 2). This implies that these groups will have a greater impact when acting together rather than acting in divided groups. Therefore, they will be able to achieve their demands more easily.

Works Cited

Conklin R. Kenneth. “Angelfire, 2002. Web.

Hoshijo, William. “Hawaii Civil Rights Commission.” Hawaii-nation, 2007. Web.

Keonakana, Jon. “Native Hawaiian Native Movement.” WordPress, 2010. Web.

Omandam, Pat. “Hawaii-nation, 1998. Web.

Whitehead S. John. “The Anti-Statehood Movement and the Legacy of Alice Kamokila Campbell.” The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 27 (1993); pp 43-63.

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