Sarah Palin and African Americans in Alaska / Palin Snubs Juneteenth Celebration / History of African Americans in Alaska

What I Did For My Country; What My Country Did For Me, is about his experiences in the war.

Alaska Democratic candidate Diane Benson for U.S. Congress 2008 visited with Ollen Hunt at the Juneteenth Festival on the Park Strip. Ollen is one of the "Buffalo Soldiers" from World War II and was signing copies of his book. The book, "Buffalo Soldier: What I Did For My Country; What My Country Did For Me," is about his experiences during the war.

One issue that is just now catching the attention of main stream media is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s apparent attitudes towards African Americans due to a recent disclosure that she made racially insensitive statements of her intention to not hire any blacks during her gubernatorial administration.   In an illuminating post dated September 12, 2008 on the internet blog Electronic Village, the writer comments on Gov. Palin snub of Alaskan African American citizens who invited her to the annual Juneteenth celebration, an event which all past Alaskan governors had attended.  Although numerous politicians made it out to the celebration, including, as reported in the Anchorage Daily News on June 15, 2008, “a booth full of Democrats,” no one from the governor’s office even responded to requests for an appearance by Gov. Sarah Palin.

Villagers, my view is that character is measured by the things you do when nobody is looking. Do you wonder what vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was thinking about African Americans before she stepped onto the national stage?

The following is a statement from one of the Juneteenth Directors in Alaska:

“As for Governor Sarah Palin’s involvement in the African American community, the Governor’s office hasn’t participated in any of our Alaska Juneteenth Events. All previous Alaskan Governor’s have traditionally attended and participated in our annual Juneteenth Celebration. Gov. Palin was the first governor not to send out a congratulatory letter or assist us in any way with our Juneteenth activities.I didn’t have the courtesy of receiving a reply when I asked for a representative from the Governor’s office to come and speak at our Juneteenth Celebration if Governor Palin was unable to attend. I never even heard of Gov. Palin until she was elected Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, in Mat-Su Valley.

Governor Palin is a very energetic and spontaneous woman. With some of the things being said and going around this state right now, I’m surprised none of the national media have bothered to come here and get the words directly from the mouths of the people who have lived with her all of these years instead of ‘surfing the net!’

My other opinion is why would an individual who, to my knowledge, has not hired any African Americans on her gubernatorial staff, insist so passionately on being on a television show owned and operated by an African American, Oprah Winfrey?

While meeting with Black leaders concerning the absence of any African Americans on her staff, Gov. Palin responded that she doesn’t have to hire any Blacks and was not intending to hire any. What kind of attitude is this toward African American for who may be the first Vice-President of the United States?

I understand Oprah did have Senator Obama on her show a few times and was the main person raising funds for him “before” the presidency race was in full swing. However, the key point here is that it is Oprah’s prerogative not be used as a pawn to tilt the vote one way or another. Oprah has stated repeatedly that she wasn’t going to have one side or the other on her show by choice. I thought that was what the Civil Rights Movement was all about, a persons right to make their own choices. I guess this isn’t a Democracy at all anymore.”

Gwendolyn Alexander, President
African American Historical Society of Alaska
Alaska Juneteenth Celebration
P. O. Box 143105
Anchorage AK 99514
(907) 884-6860

Sarah Palin and African Americans in Alaska

Alaska’s Cultures

African American / Blacks

Map of significant African American populations

Map of significant African American populations

After the Civil War, many of the black men who migrated to Alaska were seafarers who worked in the whaling and fur trade in the North Pacific and who remained to take up residence in the Alaska territory. The discovery of gold brought more blacks to Alaska. For four years, the one hundred fifty-eight black members of Company L, 24th Infantry, US Army were stationed at Dyea and Skagway to preserve law and order and to show the flag. Some members stayed.

World War II brought an influx of blacks to Alaska as the military began work on the Alaska Highway and to fortify Alaska. Black military engineers and port battalions were assigned to Alaska. More than 3,000 black engineers worked on the Alaska Highway. Black battalions were also assigned to the Aleutian Islands during the Aleutian campaign.

Since statehood, many blacks in Alaska have been associated with the military. They have been stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Fort Richardson (Anchorage), Eielson Air Force base, Fort Wainwright (Fairbanks), Fort Greely (Delta Junction) or with the Coast Guard in Juneau, Ketchikan or Kodiak. Many members of the military select Alaska as their place of permanent residence and choose to remain in the state when retiring. Over the years, the African-American population levels have fluctuated with the number of military personnel assigned to each base in Alaska.  (Courtesy of the Alaska History & Cultural Studies)


3 responses to “Sarah Palin and African Americans in Alaska / Palin Snubs Juneteenth Celebration / History of African Americans in Alaska

  1. Alaska has a population of around 25,000 African-Americans, with a total population of around 700,000. Therefore, African-Americans make up around 4% of the overall population of Alaska, with higher percentages in the larger cities like Anchorage.

    We should familiarize ourselves to the history of African-Americans in Alaska:

    For example, African-Americans who built the highway to Alaska stayed to live after it was completed. Taking the position that the people who continue to play a significant role in the building of the infrastructure of Alaska should not be represented on the staff of Gov. Palin is preposterous.

    Gov. Palin’s attitude toward Alaska’s black population indicates what her feelings might be toward all African-Americans as vice-president and possibly president of the United States. Like Sen. McCain, Gov. Palin shows little or no respect for the observance of Juneteenth Independence Day in America. Juneteenth is an official state holiday observance in Alaska which requires the Governor to issue an annual proclamation. Despite the statute, Gov. Palin did not issue a Juneteenth Proclamation in 2007.

    Gov. Palin still refuses to meet with African-American leaders of the Ministers Alliance to discuss job opportunities for African-Americans during the building of the Alaskan pipeline. Again, in my opinion, if elected to the White House, most likely her actions toward African-Americans will not change. Let African-American leaders in Alaska tell their own story about Gov. Palin. I have spoken to several of them and remain quite concerned about what I am hearing.

    Juneteenth is America’s 2nd Independence Day celebration. 29 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance, as well as the Congress of the United States.

    Together we will see Juneteenth become a national holiday in America!

    Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
    National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
    National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF)
    National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC)


  3. Pingback: Sarah Palin is Being Sued in Federal Court | Politicususa

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