For 19th century slaves in America, a hand-stitched quilt was more than just bedding; it was a map to freedom. As Black History Month kicked off at the Molokai Public Library last Wednesday, Molokai resident John Wordin shared the little-known story of the secret role quilts played in bringing enslaved African Americans to safety.
Wordin’s presentation was inspired by the book “Hidden in Plain View,” which details the history of the system of coded quilts.
“Slaves were deliberately kept from getting any education. They were illiterate,” said Wordin. “You couldn’t just give them a handout and say, ‘Well, these are directions as to where to go and who to talk to.’”
Instead, instructions were secretly stitched into shapes on quilts and hung in the windows of homes that formed the Underground Railroad, the covert network of routes leading to the free North.…
Photo courtesy of Siri Anderson.
On Jan. 17, Molokai paid tribute to a man who left a legacy of equality and social justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was not just observed as a holiday, but as a Day of Service on Molokai, with students gathering on the Public Library grounds to remember the true meaning of the occasion.
Interval House Molokai joined with Aka`ula School and the Molokai Public Library to put on a program that included portions of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in more than half a dozen languages, while Aka`ula School students opened the event with “Music of the Movement,” a civil rights musical celebration.…
For 50 years beginning during World War II, the island of Kaho`olawe was rocked by bombs, dropped by the U.S. military for naval training. Hawaii residents recall hearing the explosions and feeling the ground shake as missiles left gouges in the earth. Now, after decades of protest efforts, cultural reconnection and environmental restoration, a process of healing is continuing as a strategic plan is being developed to guide Kaho`olawe’s future.
Once a spiritual and cultural center for Native Hawaiians, trespassing on Kaho`olawe was prohibited for half a century. In the early 1970s, people began questioning those laws, and in 1976, the Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana (PKO) formed and filed a suit in federal court to stop the bombing.…
By Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello
The Kulaia festival two weeks ago revived a historic tradition of aloha surrounding the annual canoe races during which paddlers and community would gather together. Pictured here, Hawaiian immersion students participated in the celebration that closed Kaunakakai’s main street for the festivities. This coming weekend, the spirit of Kulaia will be carried forward during the Festivals of Aloha events and Sunday’s Molokai Hoe canoe race. Photo courtesy of Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello
Historical records dating back to 1865 note Hawaiian outrigger canoe race competitions as one of the many events our kupuna took part in during annual la kulaia, days of festivities honoring the Kingdom of Hawaii and especially honoring our beloved monarchy. …
I Ola Kanaloa News Release
I Ola Kanaloa! Life to Kanaloa! Community gatherings are being organized throughout the islands to premier a new film about the island of Kanaloa Kaho’olawe and launch discussions about the Draft 2026 Strategic Plan for Kanaloa called “I Ola Kanaloa!”
The 30-minute film about the island of Kanaloa Kaho’olawe is part of and eight part series called Standing On Sacred Ground by filmmaker Toby McLeod. The overall series tells eight distinct stories from the viewpoints of diverse indigenous communities — stories that evoke ancient and contemporary spiritual connections to earth, while exploring how the health of our global environment can be sustained through respectful understanding of the sacred lands and traditions of these native peoples.…
By Jesse Church
Aloha my fellow veterans and residents of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. Kick the bucket, bite the dust, pushing up daisies. All creative ways to say, he or she is no longer with us, and of course the military way to highlight death is, he bought the farm. Why? Around WWII, pilots began to say that when a jet crashed on a farm, the farmer usually sued the government for damages done to his farm by the crash. The amount demanded was either more than or equal to the mortgage, around $10,000 at the time, buying the farm outright.…
Photo by Laura Pilz.
With colorful lei draped carefully over each arm, volunteers set out across the gently sloping Papaloa cemetery in Kalaupapa last week with the goal of honoring and remembering each and every kupuna buried on the peninsula.
Pausing briefly at each marker to lay a hand or say a quiet prayer, the group quietly made their way through the acres of headstones, lovingly leaving a lei at each one.
The Makanalua peninsula, commonly known as Kalaupapa, serves as the final resting place for thousands of Hansen’s disease patients who were once banished there.
After more than a century of being exiled to the peninsula, patients were given the freedom to leave Kalaupapa on June 30, 1969, when Hawaii Revised Statute 326 lifted the ban on their isolation.…
Photo courtesy Lloyd Yonemura.
The unearthing of time capsules at the 75th anniversary of Molokai High School, held last month, brought back many memories. Pictured here are staff and faculty in 1989 from a photo buried at the 50th anniversary.
A letter dated May 26, 1989 from then-principal Clifford Horita expressed wishes from the past.
“When this message is read in the year 2014, we want to wish all of you greetings from 1989,” he wrote. “I hope that Molokai’s ‘friendliest spirit” still exist in 2014 as it is existing today. We wish all of you a successful 75th celebration.”
Photo courtesy Lloyd Yonemura.…
Editor’s note: For decades, Bob Hope brought entertainment and smiles to millions of U.S. troops through United Service Organizations (USO), making 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991. Two weeks ago, Aka`ula school put on its third annual USO-tribute show, with a full cast of characters performed entirely by Aka`ula students. Below, reprinted with permission from Aka`ula’s newsletter, are what students had to say about the experience.
USO Dress Rehearsal
By Dillon DeCoite, 8th Grade
Even though it was a dress rehearsal, I think we did great. The audience was mostly our parents and family members, and they sold food and drinks on the side. …
Hui Malama Makanalua News Release
This year, June 30 marks the 45th anniversary of the end of the isolation of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients at the Makanalua peninsula, commonly known as Kalaupapa. To observe this anniversary and honor those who were subject to the policy, local nonprofit Hui Malama Makanalua will be placing lei made from natural materials at every known burial site on the peninsula. This project, named Lei Hali`a O Kalaupapa(lei in remembrance of Kalaupapa), will be completed with the assistance of Kalaupapa National Park personnel.
From 1866 to 1969, nearly 8,000 individuals with Hansen’s disease were sent to live in “quarantine” on the peninsula.…