SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Celebrate Our Civil Rights Leaders!
By Janice Jackson


January 12, 2006
Thursday PM

January 16th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a skilled and charismatic orator who delivered many speeches in support of African-American civil rights, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) is perhaps best known for his remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 28 August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. After reading the first part of his speech, the eloquent leader began to extemporize with the words "I have a dream today . . . ," talking of a time when blacks and whites could work, play, and pray together, a time when character rather than color would matter most. Quoting a line from "My Country Tis of Thee," he called on the nation to "let freedom ring." King's oratory electrified the estimated 250,000 black and white marchers and captivated a vast television audience. More attention was given to King's remarks than to those of any other speaker, and to this day, his stirring speech is synonymous in many minds with the 1963 march. (Library of Congress website)

February 16th is also Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. Elizabeth & Roy Peratrovich were Grand Presidents of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood during the push for equal rights legislation which was passed on behalf of Native Alaskans in Alaska in 1945.

As Grand Camp President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Elizabeth provided the crucial testimony that cultivated passage of the Anti Discrimination Bill. It was her response when questioned by the Senate "Will the equal rights bill eliminate discrimination in Alaska?" -- that split the opposition and allowed the bill to pass.

Elizabeth answered, "Have you eliminated larceny or murder by passing a law against it? 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." As Elizabeth stepped down from the Senate platform, the galleries and some of the senators gave her a rousing acclaim. The Senate passed the bill 11 to 5.

With the help of then Governor Ernest Gruening and Congressional Representative Anthony J. Dimond, as well as the Alaska Native Brotherhood & Sisterhood, legislation was sponsored and introduced in the Legislature in 1943. However, the "Equal Rights" Bill did not pass until the next legislative session in 1945. A new era in Alaska's racial relations had begun. (

The local Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood camps will host a celebration in honor of Elizabeth Peratrovich on February 16, 2006, and all are welcome to attend this celebration. More details will be announced shortly on SitNews.

Janice Jackson
ANS Camp 14
Ketchikan, AK 99901


About: Janice Jackson is a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 14, Ketchikan, and a past Vice-President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp.

Archive - Elizabeth Peratrovich Day 2005:

Elizabeth Peratrovich Day Celebration Continues Focus on Native Civil Rights By Sharon Lint
Sitnews - February 18, 2005



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Ketchikan, Alaska