Women's History Month: Elizabeth Peratrovich
Note: This was first posted on the Romancing the Genres blog.
Alaska has its share of strong women. One of the strongest is an historical icon here: Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Elizabeth Peratrovich (Ḵaax̱gal.aat) was of the indigenous Tlingit Lukaax.ádi clan, and the grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. When the territory’s Anti-Discrimination Bill was introduced in 1945, some expressed concerns that the measure would aggravate racial tensions. Peratrovich famously approached the legislature and responded, “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind the gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights.” The bill was passed shortly after her speech.
Every February 16, Alaskans celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich Day to honor her memory and remind us of her civil rights work. May we all use her example to be strong women in our own lives, and make the world a better place.
My friend Annie Boochever wrote Fighter In Velvet Gloves: Alaska’s Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich with Elizabeth’s son Roy Peratrovich Jr. Together they tell the story of Elizabeth Peratrovich and the Anti-Discrimination law of 1945. It’s a great book for young teens and adults alike.