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Alberta Schenck Adams

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Full Name  Alberta Schenck
Resting place  Cremation
Name  Alberta Adams
Children  MaryJill, Yvonne Rose
Ethnicity  Inupiat, caucasian

Alberta Schenck Adams httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumb4
Born  June 1, 1928Nome, Alaska
Known for  Challenging Alaska's segregation practices
Died  July 6, 2009, Anaheim, California, United States

Alberta Daisy Schenck Adams (June 1, 1928 – July 6, 2009) was a teenage civil rights activist in the struggle for equality by the indigenous peoples in the United States Territory of Alaska. Her 1944 challenge to segregation practices was cited during the Territorial Legislature's proceedings in passage of Alaska's 1945 anti-discrimination law, a decade before the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed segregation in public schools, and before Rosa Parks in Alabama sparked a public bus boycott by refusing to give up her seat to a white person.


Early life and segregated Alaska

Alberta Schenck was born in Nome, Alaska on June 1, 1928, to Albert Schenck, a white Army veteran of World War I. Her mother was Mary Pushruk Schenck of native Inupiat heritage. She was born into an era when the indigenous peoples of Alaska were subjected to segregated practices that often left non-white children without an education for lack of facilities. Some segregated business establishments advertised that all their employees were white.

Alaska Dream Theatre incident

When Alberta was a high school girl in 1944, she had a part-time job ushering at the Alaska Dream Theatre in Nome, where part of her job was to make sure non-white patrons sat in their designated segregated area. She eventually registered a complaint with the theatre's manager and was fired. Alberta's response became an opinion article on March 3, 1944 in The Nome Nugget newspaper. She returned later with a white date, and the two of them sat in the "Whites Only" section. She and her Army sergeant date refused to move when the manager demanded she move to the non-white section. The theater manager contacted the local police who arrested Schenck and placed her in jail for one night. Schenck’s arrest rallied the local Inupiat community who staged a protest at the theater until her release from jail the next day.

Anti-discrimination legislation

Indignant and determined not to be deterred, she wrote a letter to Alaska Governor Ernest Gruening and related the incident to him. The prior year, the Governor had seen his anti-discrimination bill be defeated in the Territorial Legislature. Her letter inspired the Governor to have the bill re-introduced in the Territorial Legislature, during which her experience was cited on the floor of the legislature. He answered her letter vowing that no one would again receive that kind of treatment in Alaska. The re-introduced bill, Alaska's Anti-Discrimination Act passed both houses of the legislature and was signed into law on February 16, 1945.

Death and legacy

Alberta Schenck married a man named Adams and moved to California. She died on July 6, 2009 in Anaheim of congestive heart failure.

The role Alberta Schenck played in passage of Alaska's 1945 anti-discrimination legislation was part of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2011, Alberta Schenck Adams was inducted into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.


Alberta Schenck Adams Wikipedia

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