Hawaiian Statehood and the Civil Rights Movement, 1959 (Worksheet)

Hawaiian Government Officials, 1959-1962. CREDIT: Hawaii State Archives.
When Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959 "...the population of the Hawaiian Islands [was] only 25 percent 'white.' The majority of its population [was] native Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese."

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States. Previous attempts at statehood were met with opposition both by some in Hawaii and in Congress. The Hawaiian Admission Act occurred during the Civil Rights Movement when minorities were campaigning for greater rights. Writing in August 1959, the editors of WORLDVIEW Magazine saw this as a victory in the fight towards greater racial tolerance and hoped that Hawaii would set an example of racial harmony for the entire nation. 

A classroom-friendly excerpt from the 1959 WORLDVIEW editorial can be found on the top right sidebar. This activity works well in an American history class.The full article with more context concerning the Civil Rights movement can be found here.

WORLDVIEW Magazine ran from 1958-85 and featured articles by political philosophers, scholars, churchmen, statesmen, and writers from across the political spectrum.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Why do you think the authors of this editorial feel optimistic about the Civil Rights Movement after Hawaii had been admitted as a state?

2. What do the authors mean when they reference a quote that "Little Rock was the white supremacists' Gettysburg and Hawaii is their Appomattox"? Do you think this ended up being true? Explain.

3. Do you think Hawaii could have been admitted as a state at a different point in time? If so, when?

4. Do you see any parallels between when Hawaii was admitted as a state and other territories path/admission for statehood? Explain.