Elizabeth
Portrait of Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Alaska State Library, Amy Lou Blood Barney Collection. ASL-P597-2159.

House Bill 14, known generally as the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, was the first anti-discrimination law in Alaskan history. The law made it illegal to discriminate based on race. The bill was approved on Feb. 16, 1945 by the Alaskan Territorial Legislature.

This legislation was initially proposed by the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS), organizations composed primarily of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people from Southeast Alaska. Although the ANB and ANS contacted government officials various times prior to 1945, the first attempt to pass an anti-discrimination act failed in 1943. Two years later the campaign for its passage was championed by ANB and ANS Grand Presidents Roy and Elizabeth Peratrovich (also husband and wife). Their tireless effort spent working with Governor of Alaska Earnest Gruening, and speaking of the bills benefit to legislators resulted in enough votes to see the legislation passed.

Elizabeth Peratrovichs 1945 speech before the Legislature has been highly credited as being influential in the bills passage. The law made discriminatory actions punishable with up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

In 1988 the Alaska Legislature established February 16 as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day in order to honor her contributions, for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska (Alaska Statutes 44.12.065).

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