Why is Hawai‘i a state?
How did it become a state?
What were the conditions that led to statehood?
What are the benefits and disadvantages of statehood?
These were the questions asked when we launched Statehood Hawai’i in 2006 to address independent perspectives around the 50th commemoration of Hawai‘i statehood. Videos, research, history, panel discussions and forums were produced to stimulate public engagement and dialogue. Although it couldn’t be answered universally for all, these were necessary questions to arrive at an understanding of our history and the social and political climate of this place.
Statehood Hawai’i acknowledged the complexity of the fiftieth year of Hawai‘i statehood and sought to understand the people and communities who have come to define our unique history. Recognizing the results of the statehood plebiscite, observing the events that led to statehood as well as the events that followed are still fresh in the minds of many people, and Statehood Hawai’i was dedicated to commemorating this event.
Long before March 12th, 1959, the date Congress passed the Admission’s Act, there were already many perspectives concerning statehood history.
During the anniversary, multiple perspectives about Hawaii’s past half-century emerged, mixing the controversial with the nostalgic. Statehood Hawai’i sought to present all views giving the public an opportunity to share their experiences online, on television or through live public forums.
Statehood Hawai’i was in part funded by the Hawai’i Council of the Humanities and the Hawai’i People’s Fund. Statehood Hawaii received a “We the People Grant” from the National Endowment of the Humanities and owes a debt of gratitude with the organizations that helped to shape this discourse. Among the many organizations that contributed to Statehood Hawai’i, we would like to include ‘Ōlelo Community Media, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Centro Hispano de Hawaii, Filipino Community Center, Hawaii , Hawai’i Korean Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii United Okinawa Association, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, United Chinese Society of Hawaii, the Center of Labor Education and Research, Kaleponi Advocates for Hawaiian Affairs, and the ILWU archives in Honolulu and San Francisco.
The Steering Committee comprised of Tom Coffman, Warren Nishimoto, Chris Conybeare, and Kekuni Blaisdell.
Arnie Saiki was the lead historical researcher for a federally-funded feature documentary, “State of Aloha”, produced by the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii. He received his MFA from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts, and completed two years working for his Ph.D at NYU, Department of Performing Studies.