I was saddened to learn of the death in November 2021 of our friend and colleague, Leonard Hoshijo. Leonard devoted his life to working in solidarity with Hawai‘i’s working people in his roles as organizer, educator, union staff member, union officer, and public servant. His obituary from the Honolulu Star Advertiser can be accessed here.
When I was tapped to head up the Rice & Roses television series in 1982, I was long on experience with labor and social justice issues. But, as a relative newcomer to Hawaiʻi, I lacked experiential knowledge of Hawai‘i’s labor history. Leonard Hoshijo was one of the people who offered support and access to Hawaiʻi ’s working class. Later, he became a member of CLEAR’s Labor Education Advisory Council and continued to support for the Rice & Roses program as well as CLEAR’s overall mission.
Leonard continued to aid our mission as a founder and President of the Hawai‘i Labor Heritage Council (HLHC). HLHC provides funding and support to projects that illuminate Hawai‘i’s labor history. When we embarked on a documentary about Ah Quon McElrath, Leonard and HLHC were instrumental in providing and securing funding for the AQ McElrath Labor History website.
This website is a vehicle for showcasing the voices of Hawai‘i ’s working class by providing access to CLEAR’s extensive video collection. I was delighted when our producer/director Joy Chong-Stannard informed me that she discovered several clips featuring Leonard in the collection. I’m pleased to share two examples featuring Leonard (circa mid-1970s). The first shows his role as ILWU Housing Representative and Organizer in an interview for Rice & Roses that was conducted by my predecessor Max Roffman.
Another excerpt from the collection features Leonard addressing a session for ILWU shop stewards.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to Leonard’s family. Leonard Hoshijo will be missed, but his lifelong commitment to Hawaiʻi workers and the struggle for economic and social justice are a lasting legacy, and his life serves as a role model for future generations. I wish to thank all of you who have, like Leonard, supported documentation of Hawai‘i labor history and the Ah Quon McElrath Project. Mahalo Nui Loa! Chris Conybeare Executive Producer