Lawmaker recognizes African American Soldiers Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2020

‘We can’t change the wrongs of the past, but we must understand our history”

ANCHORAGE– October
25th is African American Soldiers Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day, as established by Senate
Bill 46
 
that passed into law in 2017. This monumental accomplishment was achieved with the labor of the African American soldiers, who completed the highway ahead of schedule, despite being subject to substandard conditions and non-functioning equipment. The
work demonstrated to President Truman that African American soldiers had much to offer the US Military, as he moved forward with desegregating the military forces. For this reason, the Alaska Highway is also called “The Road to Civil Rights.”

 

“This is history we should all know and I was honored to work on legislation with Senator David Wilson to commemorate this accomplishment and recognize the incredible work of the African American soldiers,” said Representative
Geran Tarr
. “This summer, conversations about systemic racism reminded me of their work as they were given bad equipment, minimal supplies, and were even segregated from the communities they worked near. We can’t change the wrongs of the past, but
we must understand our history.”

 

The Anchorage School District is now incorporating a curriculum on this into their Alaska history studies. This multi-year effort can serve as a model for how to update and incorporate important history into what our students learn.

 

“As an educator, it brings me great joy to know that Anchorage School District students will be learning this important part of our history. The Alaska Highway remains the biggest infrastructure project completed in this country. All of our students can be
proud to know the importance of this route to our national security and the importance of the work done by these soldiers. We need to keep sharing this story,” said Jean Pollard of
the Alaska Highway Memorial Project. “We know families are doing distance learning and we
want to offer our website
 
as a place for your to spend time with your student learning something important about Alaska history.”

The Alaska Highway Memorial Project annually performs a historical account of the construction for the Reader’s Theater, but was unable to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those interested in learning more about the ALCAN Highway and the incredible
work done by the the three African American units- the 93rd, 95th, and 97th Engineers- that worked the most difficult and hazardous sections in Alaska, please visit the Alaska
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities website
 
commemorating the 75th Anniversary the highway’s completion. 

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CONTACT
Joe Plesha
Press Secretary
Alaska House Majority
(907) 465-6791
Joe.Plesha@akleg.gov

Phone
Phone: 907-465-4451
Fax: 907-465-3445

Address
State Capitol Room 208
Juneau AK, 99801