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Union actions benefit community-Unlawful Assembly Act, Grand Jury composition

Union actions benefit community-Unlawful Assembly Act, Grand Jury composition

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, Hawai`i like many jurisdictions enacted specific laws aimed at crushing the rising labor movement. These laws restricted rights of assembly and rigged the Grand Jury system to exclude the working class, by creating “Blue Ribbon” jury panels. In advance of the 1909 sugar strike, the Japanese Higher Wage Association was formed by four journalists, Nippu Jiji editor, Yasutaro Soga, reporter Yokichi Tasaka, and Frederick Makino (future Hawaii Hochi publisher) and writer, researcher Motoyuki Negoro. They sought to promote better wages and working conditions for ethnic Japanese plantation workers. As leaders of the movement, these journalists documented oppressive conditions and editorialized for change. As a result, their newspaper offices were raided by law enforcement, they were arrested and charged among other things with “impeding sugar plantation operations”! The four were sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined $300 each. So much for First Amendment rights to freedom of the press! The 1946 sugar strike likewise saw application of these oppressive laws, when picketing workers were charged with crimes under the Unlawful Assembly and Criminal Syndicalism Acts. Jail sentences included felony charges that could result in 10 year sentences! ILWU attorney, Harriet Bouslog, successfully appealed these convictions. In a discussion on a Rice & Roses program (circa 1978), AQ reminds us that this action by the union benefitted both striking workers and the entire community.
AQ on English Standard Schools

AQ on English Standard Schools

You may be familiar with the history of racial segregation of schools that was practiced on the Continent and the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1954, Brown v. Board of Education, that found the practice unconstitutional. Hawai`i residents, unless of a certain age, are probably unaware that for years Hawai`i schools were segregated, not by race, but by language! In 1924, the Department of Public Instruction created a system of English standard schools in Hawai`i. This decision was the result of pressure by the Haole elite, who felt that their children’s education would suffer if they were instructed in classrooms with local children for whom English was not their first language. This objective was coupled with the desire that their children would learn “American rather than Asian values”. From the very beginning there was opposition to this “undemocratic” system, opposition that would grow and that finally resulted in the end of English standard schools in in 1960. In an appearance on the Rice & Roses television show, hosted by Max Roffman (circa 1978), AQ observes that the labor movement helped mobilize support in opposition to the English standard school system. For an excellent overview of this history see the 1993 paper by Judith Hughes, The Demise of the English Standard School System in Hawai`i. AQ felt that a strong, united labor movement had the ability to address issues benefitting the entire community, not just narrow issues of wages and working conditions. Our documentary about AQ, The Struggle Never Ends, will utilize our substantial film and video archive and feature: AQ, her rank and file brothers and sisters, academics, and political figures.
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