Short Reads: The Hawaiian Journal of History Author Series.

Short Reads: The Hawaiian Journal of History Author Series

The Hawaiian Historical Society and Windward Community College Library partner for an in-person event series titled, “Short Reads: The Hawaiian Journal of History Author Series.” This event will feature authors published in The Hawaiian Journal of History and give them a platform to discuss their article and research with the community. This monthly program will run from February 2023 to April 2023 and is free and open to the public. 

Our March “Short Reads” presentation is by Jonathan Y. Okamura on his article, “The Lasting Significance of the Majors-Palakiko Case” (vol. 54, 2020). The event will be held in-person at Windward Community College Library on Wednesday, March 22, 1:00 to 2:00pm.

Some may know this as the case behind Morgan’s Corner, but it’s more importantly connected to the 1957 abolition of capital punishment in Hawai’i. James Majors and John Palakiko were young Kanaka men, who were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a wealthy Haole woman, Therese Wilder, at her Nu‘uanu Valley home in 1948. This highly publicized case is often connected to the abolition of the death penalty in Hawai‘i in 1957, but it was not the only factor. Okamura emphasize three race-related factors that contributed to the end of capital punishment in the territory: the multiracial coalition that developed to advocate for commutation of the death sentences given to Majors and Palakiko; the greatly transformed racial setting of Hawai‘i after World War II; and the Democrats gaining control of the legislature for the first time in 1954.

Jonathan Y. Okamura is professor emeritus at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where he worked for more than thirty years, twenty of which were with the Department of Ethnic Studies. He is the author of several books, including Raced to Death in 1920s Hawai‘i: Injustice and Revenge in the Fukunaga Case (University of Illinois Press, 2019), and a regular columnist for Honolulu Civil Beat on race and ethnicity issues in Hawai‘i.

Don’t delay, read the article today!

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We recommend parking at Hale Aʻo parking lot and walking up the yellow brick road to Laʻakea Library.