How Hawaiian leis came to the Selma to Montgomery marches
[Caption: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and others wore leis as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965. WFA/Associated Press, via the Guardian]
Many thanks to Nona Ferdon for filling in some of the gaps in our story of flowers in the history-making March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965. We noted that several of the Civil Rights marchers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wore leis.
“You wondered how they got there,” Nona writes of the floral garlands. “We took them. There were five of us representing Hawaii on the march.“
In our earlier story we had credited the pastor of Honolulu’s Kawaiahao Church, Rev. Abraham Akaka, who had befriended Dr. King the previous year, with sending the leis. He, in fact, may have been behind this effort in some way, but Nona, who delivered the flowers, doesn’t recall ever meeting Rev. Akaka or hearing of his involvement in this gesture. “I don’t know who organized on the leis,” she writes. “It was all on short notice and we showed up at the airport around 5 in the afternoon. There was no publicity or anything like that, we just said goodbye to some friends and left. Taking leis was just something that anyone from Hawaii would do almost automatically.” Only after the march, when the leis had made their glorious statement, did the flowers inspire curiosity. Floral garlands around the neck weren’t, and still aren’t, a common sight in the Deep South.
Nona writes that members of the Hawaiian delegation were “Glenn Izutsu, head of the student union at the University of Hawaii at that time (I understand that he is dead now); Dr. Robert Browne (a psychiatrist who is also dead): me, who was a research fellow at the UH at that time (and who is still very much alive and a Dr. of clinical psychology here in London - now carrying my original birth-name i.e. Nona M. Ferdon); Charles Campbell (who was a high school teacher and I don’t know his current status of health); and Dr. Linus Pauling, Jr. (son of Linus the two time Nobel prize winning scientist and who, I believe, is still alive now.)”
We have not been able to locate a large format version of the photo Ebony magazine first published, of Nona and the rest presenting the leis to the march leaders, including King. You magazine collectors can check a spring 1965 issue of Ebony (and if you’re energetic and generous, scan the photo and send it along!)
Nona modestly neglected to tell us that in addition to being a strong civil rights advocate, she was a force in the feminist movement. She was an early member of N.O.W., and in the 1970s founded and co-directed The Boston Psychological Center for Women. More power to you, Nona!
The Human Flower Project is an international newsgroup, photo album and discussion of humankind’s relationship with the floral world.
Kumu Ryan McCormack talks about the importance of connecting to Hawaiian native foods as a way to connect to our selves and our environment. The interview is part of a series of video interviews about the culture and history of ‘ulu (breadfruit) in Hawaii.
In Hanalei, Kauai on the Kobayashi Organic Farm, Uncle Jerry Konanui, master farmer, shares his knowledge about the wisdom of ancient Hawaiians and their deep understanding of the natural world. He addresses the importance of biodiversity and understanding the “name and story” of every plant.
The word kua‘âina translates literally as “back land” or “back country.” Davianna Pômaika‘i McGregor grew up hearing it as a reference to an awkward or unsophisticated person from the country. However, in the context of the Native Hawaiian cultural renaissance of the late twentieth century, kua‘âina came to refer to those who actively lived Hawaiian culture and kept the spirit of the land alive. The mo‘olelo (oral traditions) recounted in this book reveal how kua‘âina have enabled Native Hawaiians to endure as a unique and dignified people after more than a century of American subjugation and control. The stories are set in rural communities or cultural kîpuka—oases from which traditional Native Hawaiian culture can be regenerated and revitalized.
By focusing in turn on an island (Moloka‘i), moku (the districts of Hana, Maui, and Puna, Hawai‘i), and an ahupua‘a (Waipi‘io, Hawai‘i), McGregor examines kua‘âina life ways within distinct traditional land use regimes. The ‘òlelo no‘eau (descriptive proverbs and poetical sayings) for which each area is famous are interpreted, offering valuable insights into the place and its overall role in the cultural practices of Native Hawaiians. Discussion of the landscape and its settlement, the deities who dwelt there, and its rulers is followed by a review of the effects of westernization on kua‘âina in the nineteenth century. McGregor then provides an overview of social and economic changes through the end of the twentieth century and of the elements of continuity still evident in the lives of kua‘âina. The final chapter on Kaho‘olawe demonstrates how kua‘âina from the cultural kîpuka under study have been instrumental in restoring the natural and cultural resources of the island.
Part 1 of Ki Ho Alu - Keola Beamer. Featuring Slack Key Legend Keola Beamer, Moanalani Beamer, Auntie Nona Beamer and an in depth look into the life of a Master Guitar virtuoso and his Hawaiian Island heritage.
Three quarters of the U.S.’s bird and plant extinctions have occurred in Hawai‘i, and one third of the country’s threatened and endangered birds and plants reside within the state. Yet despite these alarming statistics, all is not lost: There are still 12,000 extant species unique to the archipelago and new species are discovered every year. In Restoring Paradise: Rethinking and Rebuilding Nature in Hawai‘i, Robert Cabin shows why current attempts to preserve Hawai‘i’s native fauna and flora require embracing the emerging paradigm of ecological restoration—the science and art of assisting the recovery of degraded species and ecosystems and creating more meaningful and sustainable relationships between people and nature.
Hawai‘i is home to some of the rarest plants in the world, many of them now threatened by extinction. Despite a benign and nurturing climate, native species are declining almost everywhere in the Islands. Human-introduced pests, the spread of competing alien plants, wildfires, urban and agricultural development, and other disturbances of modern life are eliminating native species at an alarming pace. In fact, 38 percent of all plants on the U.S. endangered species list are native Hawaiian plants.
A Native Hawaiian Garden is an effort to help stem the tide. Until recent years, few people attempted to raise native plants in their gardens, in schoolyards and parks, or around public buildings. But this situation is changing as essential information about raising native plants becomes more readily available. A Native Hawaiian Garden offers the most in-depth treatment yet on cultivating and propagating native Hawaiian plants. Following an overview of Hawaiian natural history and conservation, the book treats 63 species (many for the first time), giving detailed information on all stages of gardening: from preparing seeds for germination to the care and tending of the young plants in the landscape. Habitats where the plants are most likely to thrive are also described, as well as the uses that native Hawaiians made of the plants. Over 90 color photographs enhance the book.
A Native Hawaiian Garden has much to offer professional horticulturists, landscapers, and botanists, and gives reason to hope that more spaces around housing developments, shopping malls, and other commercial buildings will soon include native plants. But the book will prove especially valuable to those gardeners who wish to grow and nurture something truly Hawaiian in their own backyards. Among the many rewards of growing natives, the authors make clear, is the opportunity to contribute your own experiences and findings to a vital preservation effort.