FEBRUARY 16, ANNUALLY

“ELIZABETH PERATROVICH DAY” MARKS ALASKAN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT OF 1945

In Alaska, this date marks the anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, while also honoring Elizabeth, the Tlingit activist credited with getting it passed.  At the time, Natives were treated as second-class citizens.  During debate, one senator asked, “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?”  Peratrovich, from the gallery, responded, “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded history behind them of our Bill of Rights.” To applause, she added, “No law will eliminate crimes, but at least you as legislators can assert to the world that you recognize the evil of the present situation and speak your intent to help us overcome discrimination.”  The Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act was the first of its kind in America—10 years before Brown v. Board of Education.  

Source:  Edy Rodewald, “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day Is February 16,” Keep It Sacred: National Native Network, 2/2011.  Retrieved 6/8/2019, Keepitsacred.Itcmi.Org/2016/02/Elizabeth-Peratrovich-Day-Is-February-16/
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Courtesy Alaska State Archives Collection ID Po1-3294. 

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