Statehood Hawaii Oral History Documents

Oral History Documents from:

The Center for Oral History, University of Hawai’i

Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Hawai’i, West Oahu

International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union

Statehood Hawaii thanks the organizations that have made these oral histories possible. Many of these oral histories were recorded by the Center for Oral History and Chris Conybeare for Rice and Roses, and aired on PBS in 1984 during the Silver Jubilee of Hawai’i statehood. These tapes, now housed with the Center for Labor Education and Research are in need of restoration and archiving.

The Center for Oral History (COH), University of Hawai’i at Manoa, was
established in 1976 by the Hawai’i State Legislature. A unit of the University’s Social Science Research Institute, COH’s primary objectives are to record and preserve the recollections of Hawai’i's people and to disseminate oral history transcripts to researchers, students, and the general community.COH’s objectives also include the development of books, articles, catalogs, photo displays, and videotapes based on oral histories; serving as a resource center for oral history materials; and training groups and individuals conducting oral history research.

This volume contains near verbatim transcripts of videotaped interviews with political leaders, aides, observers, and scholars of Hawai’i's statehood movement. The interviews were originally undertaken to serve as the basis for a thirty-minute video documentary co-produced by the Center for Oral History and Hawai’i Public Television. Since the interviews contain historical data on Hawai’i's politics and government, they are transcribed and published here for archival and research purposes. As the title of this publication suggests, it is not COH’s intent to produce a comprehensive history of the statehood movement. That task was accomplished by Australian scholar Roger Bell in 1984 (University of Hawaii Press). Rather, these interviews represent the recalled experiences/ observations of nine individuals whose perspectives on statehood are as varied as their backgrounds.

All nine, however, agree that Hawai’i's drive toward statehood-involving decades of debate among local and national leaders–was closely tied to the socio-political issues of post-World War II America. The final decision to admit Hawaili as the nation’s fiftieth state rested partly on how Congress dealt with and resolved the issues of civil rights, Communism, and party politics–issues that inevitably arose in view of the Islands’ largely non-white, multi-ethnic population, growing union influence, and overturn of Republican hegemony in 1954. These issues, discussed at length by the interviewees, place Hawai’i's statehood drive within the broader context of twentieth century U.S. history while informing us of local politics and social change.

The Antonio Rania interview was conducted by Harry Bridges and was part of the Congress of Industrial Organization’s (CIO) hearings before the Committee to investigate charges against the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) and its relationship to communism. This interview was given to Statehood Hawaii by permission from Gene Vrana, head archivist of the ILWU in San Francisco.

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