Thursday, May 5 at 8 p.m. on PBS Hawai`i (KHET-11)
Koji Ariyoshi's highly-publicized arrest in August of 1951 in Honolulu on charges of being a Communist was only one of many dramatic moments in a remarkable life. Born on a coffee plantation in Kona in 1912, he was a student, a stevedore, a World War II internee and a military language specialist, a writer and editor for the pro-labor Honolulu Record, a political radical, a key player in establishing cultural contacts between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and a founder and champion for the University of Hawai'i Ethnic Studies program, for the states Oral History Program, and for state historic preservation. The program airs on PBS Hawaii (KHET-11) on Thursday, May 5 at 8 p.m.
An eyewitness to and a participant in many of the major American and Hawai`i historical events of the twentieth century, Koji Ariyoshi was perhaps the most prolific and insightful of all of the pro-labor and progressive commentators of the late 1940s and 1950s in Hawai`i. His passionate contempt for injustice, his awareness of social inequities on a local and a global level, and his indefatigable struggle to confront these problems, even at the expense of his happiness, his livelihood, and for a time his freedom, shows that his commitment to what is right, and what is due to all people, is a constant source of inspiration and action. His life also raises some critical issues about the distinction between ethics and politics, or philosophy and sedition. At what point does social critique become treason? This was the question posed by the Smith Act Trials, which proceeded on the assumption that to discuss social problems in terms of class, and to hope for a redistribution of the society's wealth, was synonymous with advocating the violent overthrow of the United States government.
The Executive producers for Biography Hawaii: Koji Ariyoshi are Joy Chong-Stannard (Director / Editor), Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl (Writer) and Craig Howes (Series Scholar), and Chris Conybeare. On-camera remembrances and analysis are provided by Franklin Odo, Ah Quon McElrath, Helen Chapin, Roger Ariyoshi, Clyde Hayashi, and Davianna McGregor. Nyla Fujii-Babb is the narrator, Dann Seki portrays Koji Ariyoshi, and Karen Yamamoto-Hackler provides the voice of Taeko Ariyoshi.
Biography Hawai`i: Koji Ariyoshi is a production of the Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Hawai'i West-Oahu, in affiliation with the Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, with funding from the Hawai`i Council for the Humanities, the Gerbode Foundation, the Kukui Foundation, The Arthur A. Rutledge Endowment in Labor Studies, and Stephen T. Sawyer. Biography Hawaii tells the stories of noted figures of the past, and evaluates their significance in influencing the life of Hawaii today. Three very successful productions, on Maiki Aiu Lake, Harriet Bouslog, and Princess Ruth Ke`elikolani, have already been broadcast on PBS Hawaii.