Koji Ariyoshi lived a remarkable life at the center of events that transformed Hawai‘i, America, China and the world. Born on a Kona coffee plantation in 1914, he worked as a stevedore in Honolulu while attending the University of Hawai‘i. He was employed on the San Francisco docks when World War II broke out, and soon found himself at Manzanar internment camp for American Citizens and aliens of Japanese ancestry.
When he enlisted in the U.S. Army, his language skills led to an assignment which ultimately carried him to Yenan, China, where he observed Communist re-education camps for Japanese POWs and worked closely with several of China’s future leaders, including Mao Zedung. After returning to Hawai‘i, Ariyoshi became involved in union activities, and soon was editing the Honolulu Record, the voice of labor during the turbulent conflicts between unions and Hawai‘i’s ruling elites.
In August 1951, Koji Ariyoshi was one of the activists arrested and charged with being a Communist – a small group that had become known as the Hawai‘i Seven. Eventually acquitted, he later became a founder and champion for the University of Hawai‘i’s Ethnic Studies and Oral History programs, and for state historic preservation. This documentary contains interviews with family and friends, commentary by cultural historians, and stunning footage for wartime China.
Despite taking Hawai‘i’s minimum wage up to $9.25 an hour – and a scheduled increase to $10.10 effective next year – Hawai‘i’s minimum wage workers are faced with an impossible challenge: the biggest gap nationally between a state’s minimum hourly wage and the most basic earnings required to meet the local cost of living. Should we change the minimum wage to a living wage?
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On March 4, 1865, at the United States Capitol, a crowd of 50,000 listened as President Lincoln delivered his classic second inaugural address, urging charity and forgiveness to a nation in the final throes of war. Just two months later, a train, nine cars long and draped in black bunting, pulled slowly out of a station in Washington, DC. Dignitaries and government officials crowded the first eight cars. In the ninth rode the body of Abraham Lincoln – America’s first assassinated president. Some seven million people would line the tracks or file past the casket to bid an emotional farewell to the martyred president. And as the funeral train made its way across nine states and through hundreds of cities and towns, the largest manhunt in history was closing in on Lincoln’s assassin, the famous actor John Wilkes Booth. This film recounts a great American drama: two tumultuous months when the joy of peace was shattered by the heartache of assassination. At the heart of the story are two figures who define the extremes of character: Lincoln, who had the strength to transform suffering into infinite compassion, and Booth, who allowed hatred to curdle into destruction.