Harry Kamoku

Harry Kamoku, (third from right) with ILWU founder Harry Bridges (center) at the 1946 California Labor School held for ILWU leaders.
Harry Kamoku, (third from right) with ILWU founder Harry Bridges (center) at the 1946 California Labor School held for ILWU leaders.

Harry Lehua Kamoku left home at age sixteen and worked as a seaman for a dozen years before returning to the Big Island to organize waterfront workers into a union in the 1930s. Of Hawaiian-Chinese ancestry, Kamoku and his fellow union pioneers on the Hilo docks have been credited with forming the first multi-ethnic union in Hawaii. On August 4, 1938 Kamoku led 250 union members and their families in a picket against a “scab”-run inter-island ship. Fifty people, including women and a child were shot by police. This event is known as the “Hilo Massacre.”

To find out more about Kamoku and the Hilo Massacre read The Hilo Massacre: Hawaii’s Bloody Monday, August 1, 1938 by William J. Puette, University of Hawaii Press.