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Timeline / Citizenship, Services, and Sovereignty / 1944: Alberta Schenck sits in ‘Whites Only’ theater section

1944: Alberta Schenck sits in ‘Whites Only’ theater section

At a time when Alaska businesses routinely post signs reading, “No dogs, no Indians,” Alberta Schenck, age 16, a mixed-race Eskimo, expresses her opposition to a movie theater’s policy of relegating Alaska Natives to the back. After sitting in the “Whites Only” section, she is jailed. Schenck publishes an essay, decrying the discriminatory practices of Nome's businesses. She garners support from Nome's Mayor Marving “Muktuk” Marston and Alaska Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening, who promise to seek a legislative end to the discrimination.

“I only truthfully know that I am one of God’s children regardless of race, color or creed.” —Alberta Schenck, Nome Nugget, March 3, 1944

Native Rights

Letter from Alberta Schenck to the Nome Nugget, March 3, 1944, regarding race discrimination in the U.S. and Nome, Alaska

Courtesy Alaska State Library, Nome Nuggett March 4,1944