Hawai`i-Born Barack Obama
44th President of the United States
By Rochelle delaCruz
By now, everyone knows that Illinois Senator Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008. And even though detractors try to deny Obama’s Hawai`i connections, these are also well known: born on August 4, 1961 at Kapi`olani Medical Center in Honolulu to Barack Hussein Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham; parents divorced and he lived with his mother in Hawai`i until 1967 when she married Indonesian Lolo Soetoro and moved to Indonesia. Barack then returned to Hawai`i in 1971 and lived with his grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham in Honolulu, attended Punahou from grade 5 and graduated in 1979.
After high school, Obama left the Islands to enroll at Occidental in Los Angeles, graduated from Columbia in New York City in 1983, attended Harvard Law School and received his JD magna cum laude in 1991. He became a community organizer in Chicago and married Chicagoan Michelle Robinson in 1992. Before the presidential election, they were raising their two daughters, Malia and Sacha in Chicago’s South Side even while Barack was a senator in Washington D.C.
The Obamas return to Hawai`i occasionally to visit his island family: sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and “Toot”, a nickname for his grandmother that comes from the Hawaiian “Tūtū”. Two weeks before November 4th in the middle of the heated campaign, Barack flew back to the Islands to visit his gravely ill eighty-six-year-old grandmother. She was able to cast an early vote for him but died the day before Obama won the presidential election.
The excitement over the January 20th Inauguration of Barack Obama is unprecedented. Many are trying to get into the official viewing area on the west side of the Capitol but the 250,000 free tickets are being distributed only through members of Congress or the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Websites and brokers offering Inauguration tickets for sale should be viewed with suspicion.
Washington D.C. is expecting the largest crowd ever to witness the historic inauguration, at last count perhaps more than four million people on the National Mall where large television screens will be erected to watch the ceremony and parade. Several Hawai`i high school bands including Punahou have applied to participate in the 2.5 mile inauguration parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the application deadline had to be extended because of the large number of groups wanting to be part of the celebration.
Hotel rooms in the capital are reportedly sold out as well as tickets to Hawai`i’s Inaugural Ball to be held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Sponsored by the Hawaii State Society in Washington D.C., it is one of eleven balls that will take place the evening of the inauguration and includes Hawaiian entertainers Raiatea Helm, Eddie Kamae and the group Kohala. There is no guarantee that Obama will show up at the event unless it’s designated “an official ball” by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. But even if that doesn’t happen, planners are still hoping he will stop by. At $200 each, the 900 available tickets for Hawai`i’s Inaugural Ball sold out three days after the election; unfortunately, scalpers are already reselling their tickets on the Internet for $1,200 to $2,000.
The only thing that might dampen spirits for the swearing-in of President Barack Obama is unpredictable weather, but with the planning and expectations at a feverish pitch, it is doubtful that even bad weather will affect the collective enthusiasm of the country.
Hawaiian Family Album
By Sandy Alonzo of Queen's Closet
Matthew Kaopio’s newest book, Hawaiian Family Album, contains eleven stories which once forbidden, are now being shared for all to enjoy. Each story is accompanied by Matthew’s remarkable mouth-brush paintings.
A 1990 Kamehameha graduate, he is an accomplished artist as well as a published author. He has a BA in Hawaiian Studies, an MA in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaii and is currently pursuing his doctorate.
Matthew is not only a scholar and an artist, but also a leader in the Artists with Disabilities movement. He was in a diving accident on Kauai in 1994 at the age of 22 which left him quadriplegic. After two years in recovery he trained as a mouth artist. The official poster and t-shirt for the October 11, 2008 ‘Awa Festival is a fine example of his artistic talent. He is one of the founding Hawai`i artists in a professional business initiative for native Hawaiian artists and others with disabilities.
Hawaiian Family Album , published in August 2008 by Mutual Publishing, can be purchased by mid- December in the Pacific Northwest at Queens’ Closet, 4102 South M Street, Tacoma, Washington, 98418.
Matthew’s mother, Bernice is a Kamehameha Schools graduate from the class of 1968. 100% of all net profit from the book sales at Queens’ Closet will be donated to a fundraiser for the Kamehameha Schools Class of 1968. For additional information call (253) 475-9576 or see our website at www.queensclosetonline.com.
Book cover graphic is from Mutual Publishing and is used with permission.
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