HSTA supports renaming McKinley High School, removing statue

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) is lending its support to rename President William McKinley High School and to remove his statue from the school grounds.

On March 12, HSTA listed different reasons why the school deserved a better name that honors its true spirit, community and legacy:

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  • The school’s name glorifies a man who illegally annexed a country against the will of her queen and people.
  • The name reflects an indoctrination of Hawaiian students and a movement that obliterated Native Hawaiian identity in favor of American patriotism.
  • The devastating loss of Native Hawaiian identity, culture, and language has yet to fully recover.
  • It is our kuleana (responsibility) to restore pono (righteousness).
  • Names have great significance to us. A school’s name should honor its greatness.

The article was written by HSTA’s Human and Civil Rights Committee and Laverne Moore, an
HSTA lobbyist and a McKinley High School special education teacher.

“As a Native Hawaiian woman who grew up under colonization, I personally experienced what
colonization does to a child at a very young age,” Moore said. “I was forbidden to speak my
native tongue. I was forbidden to have a Hawaiian first name. I lost my language. I lost my
cultural practices and beliefs. My values. Colonization made me feel like I had no rights.
Growing up, I felt marginalized, and I didn’t understand why. I only learned to be proud of my
Native Hawaiian identity as an adult, and I realized I had to fight for my rights.”

Moore said she started teaching special education at McKinley in 2001. Although she loved it, she always struggled with the school’s name because of what he did.

“We must change the school’s name for our indigenous people,” said Moore. “So many who endured this hardship before me have passed, and I fear once my generation is gone, the desire to regain what was stolen from us will slowly fade away.”

A resolution to change the school’s name back to Honolulu High School will be heard by the House Committee on Education on Thursday, March 18, at 2 p.m.

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