"No Natives Allowed!" The sign blared at the young Tlingit girl from southeast Alaska. The sting of those words stayed with Elizabeth Peratrovich all her life. They also made her determined to work for change.
In 1945, when Elizabeth was 34 years old, she gave a powerful speech before a packed session of the Alaska Territorial Legislature. Her testimony about the evils of racism crowned years of work by Alaska Native People and their allies and led to passage of Alaska's landmark Anti-Discrimination Act, nearly two decades before President Lyndon Johnson signed the US Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Today, Alaskan's honor Elizabeth Peratrovich (1911-1958) every year on February 16 "for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska." (Alaska Statutes 44.12.065). Annie Boochever worked with Elizabeth’s eldest son, Roy Peratrovich Jr., to bring Elizabeth’s story to life in the first book written for young teens on this remarkable Alaska Native woman.