A lo­cal cham­pion of the dis­en­fran­chised is hon­ored for her ser­vice in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - By Pat Gee pgee@starad­ver­

Pa­tri­cia McMana­man grew up in Hawaii but as a lit­tle girl was wit­ness to an in­ci­dent on the main­land that steered her to­ward a ca­reer in so­cial jus­tice.

Dur­ing a fam­ily visit with grand­par­ents liv­ing in Illi­nois, she was on a pub­lic bus when the driver zipped right past an African-Amer­i­can man wait­ing at a bus stop. All the pas­sen­gers were “clap­ping and shout­ing en­cour­age­ment to the bus driver” for not stop­ping. “This was be­fore the civil rights move­ment, but for me it was in­com­pre­hen­si­ble,” said McMana­man, who was 7 at the time.

An at­tor­ney, com­mu­nity leader and gov­ern­ment ex­ec­u­tive who has de­voted 37 years to help­ing the dis­en­fran­chised, McMana­man is the re­cip­i­ent of the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker


Church of the Cross­roads will present its an­nual award to her at 7 p.m. Mon­day at 1212 Univer­sity Ave. The pub­lic is in­vited to join in hon­or­ing McMana­man for the courage and com­pas­sion she ex­em­pli­fied in the spirit of King, a No­bel Peace Prize win­ner.

From 2011 through 2014 McMana­man was di­rec­tor of the state Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices, whose pro­grams in­cluded pub­lic as­sis­tance, Med­i­caid and adult and child wel­fare ser­vices. She was deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Hawaii Civil Rights Com­mis­sion from 2008 to 2010. Prior to that McMana­man was CEO of Na Loio Im­mi­grant Rights and Pub­lic In­ter­est Le­gal Cen­ter, which pro­vided free le­gal as­sis­tance for low-in­come im­mi­grants. Cur­rently she is a per diem judge of the Dis­trict Court of the 1st Cir­cuit.

She has re­ceived a plethora of ac­co­lades for her work, in­clud­ing the Rhoda Lewis Award for Pub­lic Ser­vice from the Hawaii Women’s Le­gal Foun­da­tion, the Pres­i­dent’s Award from Hawaii Women Lawyers, the Ho‘okele Lead­er­ship Award from Hawaii Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion, the Kalo

Award from Hawaii Pub­lic Health As­so­ci­a­tion, the Friend of So­cial Work­ers Award from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of So­cial Work­ers’ Hawaii chap­ter, the Bette Taka­hashi Ser­vice Award from Planned Par­ent­hood Hawaii, and the Friends of Fam­ily Court Award.

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of pol­icy changes un­der a new pres­i­dent that many ex­pect to threaten health cov­er­age, and the rights of im­mi­grants and gay and trans­gen­der peo­ple, McMana­man said it’s vi­tal for peo­ple to fight back lo­cally and na­tion­ally.

“Be­ing vig­i­lant, stay­ing in­formed and stand­ing up and speak­ing out are the key in­gre­di­ents for mov­ing for­ward. … We need to re­spond to the chal­lenges that we’re go­ing to see for the next four years be­cause if we don’t stand to­gether, we have no hope.”

She ex­pects to see peo­ple turn­ing to the courts to lit­i­gate is­sues and place in­junc­tions against the more egre­gious poli­cies. But she also has con­fi­dence in the ap­point­ment of many judges by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion across the fed­eral ju­di­ciary sys­tem.

“One ter­rific thing that will hope­fully come out of this is for the broad swath of lib­eral-minded peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions is that, I think, we’re go­ing to see a lot of hereto­fore dis­parate or­ga­ni­za­tions join­ing hands and stand­ing to­gether shoul­der to shoul­der. I think there’s a real im­pe­tus to cre­ate a move­ment again for so­cial jus­tice, a broader plat­form for jus­tice as op­posed to a sin­gle-fo­cus is­sue. I think we’re go­ing to see the en­vi­ron­men­tal folk stand­ing to­gether with so­cial jus­tice (ad­vo­cates),” as an ex­am­ple, she said.

In re­view­ing fa­mous quotes by King, “One of them that had great ap­peal to me was (para­phras­ing): It’s only at our dark­est mo­ments that you can see the stars,” McMana­man said.

“Be­ing vig­i­lant, stay­ing in­formed and stand­ing up and speak­ing out are the key in­gre­di­ents for mov­ing for­ward”


Pa­tri­cia McMana­man:

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