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As a teenager, Alberta Schenck knew segregation was wrong and she set out to do something about it. After being removed from a segregated movie theater in Nome, she was jailed because the theater’s policies forbade Natives and ‘half-breeds’ from sitting with whites. She subsequently spoke out in an historical essay that appeared in the Nome Nugget in 1944 and she followed up by writing to elected officials expressing the sentiment that was echoed later in the civil rights movement of the 1950s: “I only truthfully know that I am one of God’s children regardless of race, color or creed.” She directly helped to bring about the Alaska Civil Rights Act passed by the Territorial Legislature 10 years before the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision.
Much of Alberta’s advocacy was linked to her family, in particular her Aunt Frances Longley and Frances’ partner, Territorial Senator O.D. Cochran, their children, and friend, Ernest Gruening. Alberta’s unique family relationships allowed her to share her ideas with people directly involved in voting on the Alaska Civil Rights Act. Alberta’s aunt was a member of the Arctic Native Sisterhood in Nome which provided the connection with Roy and Elizabeth Peratrovich. Alberta was able to provide crucial testimony from Northwestern Alaska that directly contributed to the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill.
Throughout her life Alberta Daisy Schenck Adams believed it is not possible to hold moral norms without practical compassion for the very people to whom Truth is spoken with love, even if they disagree.