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  • Writer's pictureLynn Lovegreen

Black History of the Last Frontier

Did you know that Alaska has a long heritage of Black history? It does!

Among the first group of Americans to arrive in the Arctic were whalers in the 1840s, including Black crew members. Later, the first U. S. soldiers to protect the Klondike gold seekers were Black soldiers from Company L of the 24th Infantry.

Anyone who has driven the Alcan (Alaska Canada Highway) has seen the work of Black soldiers in World War II. And we have many notable Black Alaskans. Mahala Ashely Dickerson was the first Black lawyer in Alaska. Activists like Willard Bowman worked on equal rights for African Americans and Alaska Natives. Bettye Davis was a public servant who served on the Anchorage School Board and the Alaska State Legislature.

Interested in learning more? The National Park Service published Black History in the Last Frontier by Ian Hartman, with a forward by Ed Wesley. I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn the full history of our state.

cover of Black History in the Last Frontier

You can download a copy or see some of these stories at

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