Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New review from the News-Miner

David A. James has given a somewhat mixed review, but has this to say: "Overall, the book is a valuable addition to the ever-growing library of Alaskan narrative history. Jorgensen is an openly opinionated and frequently very humorous guide." James picks up on the civil rights aspect of Jorgy's experiences, talking about the movie theatre in Nome:
While living in Nome, Jorgensen also directly confronted the local segregation with an act that provides the most dramatic moment in the book. Nome’s theaters were sectioned off at the time, with only one area of seats open for Natives. At the behest of a white friend who wanted this practice abolished, Jorgensen went on a date and deliberately sat in the white section of the theater. This led to his arrest, but his friend (who was also the father of his date) bailed him out, hired a lawyer, and succeeded in opening the theater to all patrons.

This incident, similar to Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Ala., a few years later, reminds us that although Alaska was far removed from the South, racism was every bit as prevalent (though far less violent). It’s an important piece of civil rights history, and one that should be taught in the state’s schoolrooms.