Brothers and Sisters,
Today we celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich Day and the work she did as a Tlingit, civil rights champion, especially her advocacy for the passage of the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act. In response and reprimand to racist comments by a territorial senator, Peratrovich testified passionately for the bill, saying “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.”
Elizabeth Peratrovich Day provides an opportunity to remind the public of the invaluable contribution of this Native Alaskan leader who was an advocate for Native citizens and their rights. This courageous woman could not remain silent about injustice, prejudice and discrimination. In 1988, the Alaska State Legislature established February 16 as the annual Elizabeth Peratrovich Day to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Anti-Discrimination Act.
Yours in Solidarity,
Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific Alaska Region