MARCH 3, 1944

ALBERTA SCHENCK’S ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE LEADS TO ALASKA’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT OF 1945

Born June 1, 1928, in Nome, Alaska, of Inupiat heritage, Alberta played a key role in the passage of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945.  In 1944, Alberta was an usher in Nome’s Dream Theater.  When she opposed theatre policies forbidding Natives and “half-breeds” from sitting in the white section, she was fired.  After an essay she wrote for a city newspaper against the policy was published, she went to the theatre on this date with a white Army Sergeant and sat in the white section. When ordered to the Native section, she refused, was forcibly evicted, and taken to the city jail.  After release, she telegrammed Governor Ernest Gruening with her story.  With his support, the Act became reality.  Her case was used as the “prime example” of discrimination and later memorialized in a PBS Special film, For the Rights of All:  Ending Jim Crow in Alaska.  In 2011, Alberta was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame posthumously.  She died July 6, 2009, in Anaheim, California.

Source: “Albert Daisy Schenck Adams,” Alberta Schenck Adams.  Retrieved 7/2/2019, http://www.albertaschenckadams.com/
Photo:  Courtesy of Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

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