Former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka will be one of three award recipients at the National Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Awards dinner on July 2 in Denver.
In an announcement by the NEA, Akaka will receive the Ellison S. Onizuka Award for championing, first as a teacher and principal, “culturally competent education in Hawaii. He advocated for bringing the Hawaiian language and culture back into the classroom, and was able to create some of the first Head Start programs in the state, serving many of Hawaii’s Asian and Pacific Islander students.
“He also supported the establishment of the Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Anuenue Hawaiian Language Immersion School, K-12. The positive work for his culture continued into his political career, including sponsoring legislation that would become the Native Hawaiian Education Act, enacted in 1988. It creates innovative education programs to enhance the education of Native Hawaiians.”
The dinner, with the theme of “Tonight We Celebrate, Tomorrow We Organize,” will also recognize iconic civil rights leader Coretta Scott King and Pakistani youth activist Malala Yousafzai.
Akaka attended Monday’s federal panel by the U.S. Dept. of Interior at the State Capitol that listened to public testimony on the issue of establishing a Native Hawaiian government.