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Celebrating African American History Month in Hawaii

February 6, 2015

 Admiral Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Doris “Dorie” Miller (the “Hero of Pearl Harbor”), at ceremony on board warship in Pearl Harbor, May 27, 1942 (Photo Courtesy the National Archives).

In honor of President Obama’s Proclamation of February as “National African American History Month, 2015”, throughout the month we are going to explore the lives of some of the people that helped make Hawaii what it is today.

Undoubtedly, the election of Hawaii-born Barack Obama to the Nation’s highest office in 2008 and 2012 brought attention to the multi-cultural society of Hawaii. However, many are often surprised to learn of the significant achievements and contributions African Americans have made to the islands over the past two centuries.

The first African American to settle in Hawaii did so in 1810, the year Kamehameha the Great founded his Kingdom. This first settler, Anthony Allen (called “Alani” by his native Hawaiian neighbors) served as the steward to Kamehameha and went on to become a successful entrepreneur, acquiring land from high priest Hewa Hewa, starting a farm, a boarding house, a bowling alley and a hospital for ill and injured sailors. It is said that he was respected by both the native and foreign population of the Islands at that time.

Betsey Stockton

Betsey Stockton, a slave of the president of Princeton, was freed  by her master and later commissioned as a missionary to the “Sandwich Islands” (the name then given to Hawaii). Arriving in 1823 with the 2nd Company of Protestant missionaries from New England, she went on to establish the very first school for commoners, teaching history, English, Latin and algebra. She was the very first single woman and first African American woman to come to Hawaii.

Because of the important roles African Americans have played in the unfolding story of the Hawaiian Islands, we will be posting special profiles throughout the month…Stay tuned!


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