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Center for Biographical Research presents PBS broadcast of "Biography Hawaii: Koji Ariyoshi" on May 5

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Craig Howes, (808) 956-3774
Center for Biographical Research
Posted: May 4, 2005

HONOLULU - The next segment in the "Biography Hawaiʻi" series will be broadcast on Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. on PBS Hawaii featuring Koji Ariyoshi.

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, he was a student, a stevedore, a Manzanar internee, a U.S. Army language specialist, a writer, the editor of 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 Hawaiʻi Ethnic Studies program, for the state‘s Oral History Program, and for state historic preservation.

Ariyoshi was an eyewitness to and a participant in many of the major American and Hawaiʻi historical events of the 20th century, and he also left a very large, well-informed, and wide-ranging record of his observations and opinions. He was perhaps the most prolific and insightful of all of the pro-labor and progressive politics commentators of the late 1940s and 1950s in Hawaiʻi.

Ariyoshi‘s 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 even 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.

Executive producers for Biography Hawaiʻi: "Koji Ariyoshi" are Joy Chong-Stannard (Director / Editor), Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl (Writer) and Craig Howes (Series Scholar), and Chris Coneybeare. On-camera remembrances and analysis by Franklin Odo, Ah Quon McElrath, Helen Chapin, Roger Ariyoshi, Clyde Hayashi, Davianna McGregor. Nyla Fujii-Babb is the narrator, Dann Seki is Koji Ariyoshi, and Karen Yamamoto-Hackler is the voice of Taeko Ariyoshi.

Biography Hawaiʻi: "Koji Ariyoshi" is a production of the Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu in affiliation with the Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, with funding from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, the Gerbode Foundation, the Kukui Foundation, and Stephen T. Sawyer.

The series Biography Hawaiʻi tells the stories of noted figures of the past, and evaluates their significance in influencing the life of Hawaiʻi today. Three very successful productions, on Maiki Aiu Lake, Harriet Bouslog, and Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani, have already been broadcast on PBS Hawaii.

For more information, contact Craig Howes at the UH Manoa Center for Biographical Research at 956-3774 or e-mail