Elizabeth Peratrovich sat in the gallery and listened to the very contentious debate; listened to one senator after another express why it was not a good idea to let Natives have equal rights in Alaska. The record shows how Insensitive they were, when one senator asked:
|"Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?"|
|"I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights..."|
On that February day in 1945 33-year old Elizabeth Peratrovich stilled the voices of discrimination. Her testimony turned the hearts and minds of legislators when no one else could. The Senate passed the bill and the signs barring Natives came down all over the state.
As we celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich day, let us remember that we should always rise to the occasion and speak out against discrimination, whether it be in the halls of government to the local street corner. In so doing, we will keep her legacy alive.
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© Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Beckett and Sarah Teel
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