Elizabeth Peratrovich


Here’s a little bit of US history from Southeast Alaska. Today, civil rights activist and Tlingit tribal member Elizabeth Peratrovich was celebrated as a Google Doodle. She was also honored on a new $1 coin from the US Mint earlier in 2020.

Peratrovich was a key figure in establishing the first anti-discrimination law in the United States. The Anti-Discrimination Law of 1945 held that discriminatory actions would be punishable with up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine in the state of Alaska.

Though the first bill was at the state level, the United States government later began establishing more widespread anti-discrimination laws for the nation, though it took nearly two decades for the first major act to pass. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 became a benchmark for anti-discrimination legislation in the US.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as, race in hiring, promoting, and firing. The Act prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools.”

Legal Highlight: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
US Department of Labor

Peratrovich’s Tlingit name was Kaaxgal.aat. She is honored every year on February 16, which is known as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Peratrovich’s speech and the passing of the historic 1945 bill.

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