The Massie Cases: Race, Honor, and Justice In Depression-Era Hawaii

Thalia Massie’s allegation that she was raped by a gang of Hawaiians leads to two trials and exposes the racial and political tensions in Depression-era Hawaii.


Special thanks to David Weinberg of JuryGroup for permission to use these images

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SCRIPT EXCERPT: INTERVIEW OF DEACON JONES by VAN SLINGERLAND

Q: Now, you had no personal animosity toward Kahahawai?
A: Well, I don’t hate anybody. Hate is another expression of fear and I didn’t fear this black bastard, although I had no use for him.

Q: You say Massie was questioning him. Then what happened?
A: Massie asked him a question and Kahahawai lunged at him. I say, “lunged.” Somebody else might say he just leaned forward.

Q: And then?
A: I shot him.

Q: You shot him?
A: You’re God damn right I did. I shot him right underneath the left nipple. When that slug hit him he just went over backwards. That was the climax, right there.

Q: Did you know what you were doing?
A: When I shot that son-of-a-bitch, I knew what I was doing.

NARRATOR 1: The Massie case had a lasting legacy. It significantly delayed statehood for Hawaii. The newspaper headlines took their toll as some U.S. Senators from the South became even more convinced that Hawaii, with its majority non-white population, should never be allowed to become a state. It was not until August 1959 that Congress finally voted to make Hawaii the fiftieth state.

SCRIPT


PERFORMANCES BY AABANY

NAPABA Annual Convention, Boston, MA, November 20, 2009
NAPABA Northeast Regional Conference, New Brunswick, NJ, June 12, 2010

PERFORMANCES BY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

District of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, April 17, 2015