Google Doodle celebrates civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich
Google on Wednesday dedicated its Doodle to Elizabeth Peratrovich, an Alaskan native civil rights advocate who was instrumental in creating the first anti-discrimination law enacted in the United States. The Doodle marks the day in 1941 when Peratrovich and her husband launched their campaign to end discrimination in Alaska with a letter to the governor of the territory protesting a sign on a hotel door in Juneau, Alaska, on which they could read “No Natives Allowed”.
Peratrovich, a member of the indigenous Tlingit tribe of Alaska, was born in 1911, at a time of endemic segregation in the territory. She was adopted after being orphaned at a young age and went on to attend college in Bellingham, Washington.
In 1931, she married and, 10 years later, she and her husband, Roy, moved with their three children to Juneau, where they faced discrimination in trying to obtain housing and access to services. public places. They called on the state to ban the “No Dogs or Natives Allowed” signs that were common at the time.
“The owner of the Douglas Inn does not seem to realize that our native boys are just as willing as the white boys to give their lives to protect the freedom he enjoys,” they wrote in a letter to Ernest Gruening, the governor of the territory.
The governor agreed and joined forces with the Peratrovich to pass an anti-discrimination law, but their first attempt was unsuccessful in 1943. They continued to campaign for the next two years, and when a second bill was passed. reached the Senate in 1945, Elizabeth Peratrovich stepped onto the podium when the floor was opened to public comment.
“I didn’t expect that I, who have barely come out of the savagery, to remind the gentlemen with 5,000 years of civilization recorded behind them of our Bill of Rights,” she said, prompting the gallery to burst into loud applause.
After years of trying to pass an anti-discrimination bill in the state, the Peratrovich saw the passage of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, nearly 20 years before Congress adopts the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16 – the day the law was signed in 1945 – Elizabeth Peratrovich’s Day to honor “her courageous and relentless efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska ”.
Elizabeth Peratrovich died in 1958 at the age of 47 after battling breast cancer.