In August of 1969, 15-year-old Terry Young took a dive from the rock wall perch where he and his friends were messing around above an unpatrolled beach. The water was shallow, and Terry hit his head on sand, becoming in one split second a quadriplegic. Paralyzed from the neck down with only limited use of his hands and arms, Terry nonetheless finished high school and college, competed as a wheelchair athlete, got arrested for the cause of Hawaiian sovereignty, graduated as a PhD in history, and pioneered as a professor in the new field of Hawaiian Studies.
Terry, who took the Hawaiian name, Kanalu, (“the wave”) learned from being disabled to value the life he lived rather than mourn the life he lost. He used that insight to offer hope to dispossessed Native Hawaiians. At the same time, he lived by the indigenous Hawaiian practice of kuleana, his responsibility to ask for help rather than go it alone as a rugged American individualist.
In classrooms, on cable television and even from his hospital room, Kanalu inspired thousands. But when his body eventually gave out, he asked help from his doctors to end his life. In a hospital room overflowing with friends and family, ukuleles and song Kanalu Young said aloha, challenging his people to help each other as a way to revive Hawaiian culture and repair the loss of their illustrious past.
Marlene Booth (Producer/Director) is an award-winning filmmaker and instructor in film at the University of Hawai’i, who has worked in film for her own production company, Raphael Films, and for public television station WGBH-TV in Boston. She has produced and directed several major documentary films screened on PBS, at national and international film festivals, and in classrooms nationwide. Her major films include: Pidgin: The Voice of Hawai’i; Yidl in the Middle: Growing Up Jewish in Iowa; When I Was 14: A Survivor Remembers; The Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Mothers; The Forward: From Immigrants to Americans; Raananah: A World of Our Own; and They Had a Dream: Brown v. Board of Education Twenty-five Years Later.
Shirley Thompson (Editor) is an Emmy award-winning editor, producer and writer, best known for the social issue documentaries she has edited, including Pidgin: the Voice of Hawai‘i (2009), Special Circumstances (2006), Surfing for Life (2000), & It’s Elementary (1996). The documentaries she has produced and edited have aired nationally on PBS, screened at film festivals worldwide, and garnered Emmys, Best of Festival Awards, Cine Golden Eagles, and the DuPont Columbia Award for Journalism.
Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo’ole Osorio (Cultural Consultant) is a scholar of nineteenth century Hawaiian political and social history and a dedicated activist and advocate for Hawaiian self-determination. A full professor at and former Director of the Kamakakokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Dr. Osorio has developed and taught classes in history, law as culture, music as historical texts, and indigenous research methodologies. He helped design the Master of Arts degree in Hawaiian studies, and assisted in creating a new School of Hawaiian Knowledge. He has attended and organized protests and demonstrations for a number of worthy causes. Dr. Osorio called for Hawai’i’s decolonization at the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues at the UN. He is the author of Dismembering Lahui, detailing the colonization of Hawai’i as a slow and insinuative process that heavily depended on Hawaiians being converted to the law.