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Queen Liliuokalani seated

For a second consecutive year, Hawaiian History Month recognizes social justice and reconciliation of historical and cultural wrongs in Hawaiʻi. The month-long virtual celebration spearheaded by the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition in collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge commences on Thursday, September 2, in honor of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s 183rd birthday.

This year, as Hawaiʻi’s crippling COVID-19 surge wells up revamped feelings of uncertainty and high case counts within the Native Hawaiian community, organizers hope members of the lāhui (nation) will be inspired by milestones from the queen’s legacy for guidance through the pandemic’s challenges.

In 1881, Liliʻuokalani served as queen regent for her brother, King David Laʻamea Kalākaua, while he was on his year-long world tour. Just weeks after the king departed, a virulent outbreak of smallpox impacted Honolulu. To prevent the disease from spreading, Liliʻuokalani imposed a strict quarantine and was praised for saving thousands of lives.

“We hope people take away that Queen Liliʻuokalani was a leader that created solutions for our people and the larger community and took action even when it was a hard decision to make. Our Hawaiian history and our ʻike kupuna (ancestral wisdom) shows us the solutions and the path ahead,” said Malia Nobrega, director of strategic partnerships at Hawaiʻinuākea and who has helped organize the month-long celebration.

Among the wide variety of programs planned for the five-week online event will include a series of discussions on Hawaiian health. The Native Hawaiian Health department from UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine will participate in panel discussions during the event’s third week of festivities.

Virtual events will also feature cinematography put together by UH Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media highlighting the Liliʻu Project, a performing arts presentation which explores the queen through the lens of her music and poetry. The Hawaiian Theatre program at UH Mānoa will also take the spotlight during the celebration. Program founder Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker will present and shed light on the campus’ mission to grow actors, playwrights, directors, designers, technicians and patrons in Indigenous Hawaiian theatre. View the events.

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