Elizabeth Peratrovich Biography — Wiki
Elizabeth Peratrovich was an Alaskan Civil Rights activist who is widely celebrated and honored by Today’s Google Doodle for her tireless services on behalf of equality for Alaska Natives and was instrumental in getting Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act passed in 1945. The search engine giant has decided to pay tribute to Peratrovich with a Google Doodle—a special temporary alteration to its homepage logo that commemorates holidays, events, achievements and historical figures.
The Google Doodle is available to all people who land on the search giant homepage today in the U.S. and Canada.
As of this day 30 December, it was the same day in 1941 when Peratrovich and her husband decided to write to Alaska’s governor after seeing an inn door sign that said: “No Natives Allowed”. They gained his support and thus set the ball rolling towards the Anti-Discrimination Act in the territory four years later.
Elizabeth Peratrovich Early Life, Education, Family Background
Elizabeth Peratrovich was born with the name Kaaxgal.aat on July 4, 1911, in Petersburg, Alaska. She was raised by adoptive parents, living in various small Southeast Alaska communities throughout her childhood. Excited for teaching, Peratrovich attended college in Bellingham, Washington.
Peratrovich met her then-to-be husband Roy Peratrovich, who was a student at the school, during her college days. She got married to Roy moved to Klawock, Alaska where their role in local politics and Elizabeth’s knack for leadership drove her heavy involvement with the Alaska Native Sisterhood.
In 1941, they moved with their three children to Juneau. When attempting to buy a home in their new city, they were denied when the sellers saw they were of Alaska Native descent. This motivated Peratrovich to take action in the name of systemic change.
Elizabeth Peratrovich Career
In the same year of 1941, Peratrovich and Roy worked with others to draft the territory’s first anti-discrimination bill. Despite the failure, Peratrovich’s continued efforts led to a second bill to reach Alaska’s Senate on February 5, 1945. Her impassioned testimony on the Senate floor was met with widespread applause and is credited with playing a crucial role in the bill passing. Fran Ulmer, former lieutenant governor of Alaska, described Peratrovich’s testimony in 1992.
“She talked about herself, her friends, her children, and the cruel treatment that consigned Alaska Natives to a second class existence. She described to the Senate what it means to be unable to buy a house in a decent neighborhood because Natives aren’t allowed to live there. She described how children feel when they are refused entrance into movie theaters, or see signs in shop windows that read ‘No dogs or Natives allowed.'” she wrote.
“Elizabeth Peratrovich Day”
In 1988 the Alaska State Legislature announced February 16 as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day” in honor of her historic achievements in the fight for equality.
Below, Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Betsy Peratrovich, shares her thoughts
According to her granddaughter, Elizabeth Peratrovich passed away before Betsy was born. However, she shares: “She and my grandpa Roy were quite a team”.
“He liked to give her all of the credit, as she continually inspired him to strive to improve the lives of Alaska Native peoples. But my dad recounts that they both used to sit around the dining table at night where together they typed letters, wrote and practiced speeches, and strategized on how best to secure equal rights for all.”
“All Alaska Native peoples can be proud of the passage of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945—the first act of its kind in the United States.”