Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/14/2017 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
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           SB 46-OCT 25: AFR-AMER SOLDIERS AK HWY DAY                                                                       
1:38:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN announced the consideration of SB 46.                                                                             
SENATOR   DAVID  WILSON,   sponsor   of  SB   46,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, introduced  SB 46.  He paraphrased from  the sponsor                                                               
     Senate   Bill  46  recognizes   the  contributions   of                                                                    
     African  American  Soldiers   in building   the  Alaska                                                                    
     Highway and  commemorates those  extraordinary  efforts                                                                    
     by  establishing  October  25th  as  "African  American                                                                    
     Soldiers'   Contribution   to   Building   the   Alaska                                                                    
     Highway Day."                                                                                                              
     Why October  25th? On this  day, African American  Army                                                                    
     troops  of the  93rd and  95th  regiments constructing                                                                     
     the   Alaska-Canadian   (ALCAN)   highway  north   from                                                                    
     Dawson  Creek, met the  white troops  constructing  the                                                                    
     ALCAN  Highway  heading  south.  The  troops  connected                                                                    
     the  two  segments  on October  25,  1942,  at  Contact                                                                    
     Creek, near  Mile Post 590  in the Yukon Territory.  It                                                                    
     was a "Golden Spike" day.                                                                                                  
       Four regiments of African American Army Engineers                                                                        
     from  the 93rd,  95th, and  the 97th  Engineer  General                                                                    
     Services  Regiments  and the 388th Engineer  Battalion                                                                     
     were  deployed  to Alaska  to assist  in  building  the                                                                    
     1,500 miles  of road.  The highway  cost  $138 million                                                                     
     to  build at  that time.  The  10,607 men,  of which  a                                                                    
     third  were  African   American,   built  the  road  in                                                                    
     eight   months   and  12  days.   This   extraordinary                                                                     
     accomplishment   was compared  to the  construction  of                                                                    
     the Panama Canal.                                                                                                          
        Little recognition has been given to the African                                                                        
     American   soldiers   for   their   contributions    in                                                                    
     building   the   ALCAN   Highway.   For  example,   the                                                                    
     National  Archives  contains only  a few  dozen  photos                                                                    
     of  the African  American  troops  among  the  hundreds                                                                    
     taken  of  the  ALCAN  Highway  construction;   African                                                                    
     Americans   were  edited   out   of  a   1991  National                                                                    
     Geographic  feature on the  ALCAN highway,  despite the                                                                    
     fact that  the magazine  obtained  interviews of  seven                                                                    
     men who served  building the  ALCAN; And, the  official                                                                    
     759-page  U.S. Army history  of the Corps of  Engineers                                                                    
     covers  African  Americans'  involvement  with  a  one-                                                                    
     sentence footnote.                                                                                                         
1:42:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILSON  stated that  this  year,  2017, marks  the  75th                                                               
anniversary of  the ALCAN Highway.  He shared  a story of  how he                                                               
and his dad  did not understand the history of  the road. He said                                                               
SB 46  provides the recognition  that is  due the men  who helped                                                               
contribute to the construction of the ALCAN Highway.                                                                            
1:43:06 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY   ZEPP,   Staff,   Senator  David   Wilson,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, presented  SB 46  on behalf of  the sponsor.  He set                                                               
the stage  for the presentation  by providing the history  of the                                                               
Japanese  invasion  in Hawaii  in  1941  and  in Kiska  in  1942.                                                               
America's reaction was  to build an overland  route across Alaska                                                               
and  Canada in  order to  support U.S.  troops and  supplies. The                                                               
U.S.  troops  finished the  Alaska  Highway  in eight  months,  a                                                               
remarkable  feat. Most  African American  soldiers prior  to this                                                               
were delegated to  labor projects, not into  battle. That changed                                                               
after the construction of the Alaska Highway.                                                                                   
1:44:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ZEPP  showed photos of  the crews during the  construction of                                                               
the Alaska Highway in 1942.                                                                                                     
1:45:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ZEPP  said the  Alaska  Highway  is  considered one  of  the                                                               
biggest and  most difficult construction projects  ever completed                                                               
in the U.S.                                                                                                                     
1:46:36 PM                                                                                                                    
He showed  a video  on the  "Alaska Highway -  The Road  to Civil                                                               
1:51:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ZEPP  commented on the  high quality of the  African American                                                               
regiments,  especially in  the field  of  bridge building.  Their                                                               
accomplishments were ignored by the  media and the press. It took                                                               
decades for  them to receive recognition  for their achievements.                                                               
He   spoke  of   the  discrimination   that  took   place  during                                                               
He addressed why African American  soldiers should be recognized.                                                               
He  described the  race  relations  in 1942  and  the impact  the                                                               
soldiers' accomplishments had on improving those relations.                                                                     
1:53:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ZEPP listed the Reconstruction  Act of 1867, the ratification                                                               
of the Fifteenth  Amendment to the United States in  1870 for the                                                               
right  to vote,  and  the  Civil Rights  Act  of 1875  forbidding                                                               
racial  segregation. However,  in 1896  the Supreme  Court upheld                                                               
Louisiana's  requirement for  separate, but  equal accommodations                                                               
for white  and black railroad  passengers. For the next  35 years                                                               
equity in racial  relations was lost and by  1910 segregation was                                                               
firmly  established.  In  1954,   some  progress  was  made  when                                                               
segregation of  schools was banned.  In 1964,  public segregation                                                               
was  abolished by  the Civil  Rights Act,  however, the  American                                                               
troops remained segregated, including  during the construction of                                                               
the Alaska Highway.                                                                                                             
1:54:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ZEPP noted that little  publicity or notoriety has been given                                                               
to the African  American soldiers for their  efforts. He provided                                                               
examples. In  1948 President Truman  signed a  desegregation plan                                                               
for the armed  services. In 1992, when Colin  Powell, Chairman of                                                               
the  Joint Chiefs  of  Staff,  happened to  be  in Fairbanks  and                                                               
viewed Ms.  Lael Morgan's exhibit, he  said he had no  idea Black                                                               
men  had  ever  done  anything  like  that.  He  said  they  were                                                               
deserving of  recognition. Mr. Zepp  provided more  quotations of                                                               
how the highway changed race relations.                                                                                         
1:56:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ZEPP  commented that  the  legacy  of the  African  American                                                               
soldiers wouldn't  be known today,  nor be  officially recognized                                                               
by the  military, if not  for the works  of many. He  thanked the                                                               
U.S.  Park Service,  Keith Twitchell,  James Eaton,  Ted Stevens,                                                               
Andrew  Molly,  Colin Powell,  Steven  Cowen,  John Virtue,  Mike                                                               
Dunham,  Cornelia   Dean,  Tim  Ellis,  Ricky   Longfellow,  Bill                                                               
Gifford,  Connie Abu,  Douglas  Prindley, Jean  Pollard, and  the                                                               
University of Alaska-Fairbanks Professor Lael Morgan.                                                                           
He  concluded that  he was  proud to  carry this  legislation for                                                               
Senator Wilson.                                                                                                                 
1:57:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BISHOP  asked  if  Mr.   Zepp  had  talked  to  National                                                               
Geographic  during  his research  to  ask  why they  omitted  the                                                               
MR. ZEPP responded that Lael  Morgan's interview of seven African                                                               
American soldiers was stripped out of the article, so she quit.                                                                 
SENATOR BISHOP wished for a copy of the article.                                                                                
1:58:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEDMAN opened public testimony.                                                                                          
1:58:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CLAUDIA  ROLLINS,  representing  herself,  presented  information                                                               
related  to SB  46.  She said  she is  the  daughter of  Sergeant                                                               
Reginald A.  Beverly, who  was in the  95th Engineer  Regiment in                                                               
1942. She  said her dad  was one  of the 4,000-plus  soldiers who                                                               
built the Alaskan  section of the highway.  These soldiers toiled                                                               
through inclement  weather and other hardships  to complete their                                                               
mission. She said  she is very glad that Alaska  will be honoring                                                               
these  soldiers  by  making  October  25  officially  the  Alaska                                                               
Highway  Day.  She  noted  that  her  dad  celebrated  his  102nd                                                               
birthday  on January  31,  2017. She  thanked  the committee  and                                                               
introduced her father.                                                                                                          
1:59:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REGINALD A. BEVERLY, Surveyor,  95th Engineer Regiment, testified                                                               
in favor  of SB  46. He  thanked the  committee for  honoring the                                                               
soldiers who  worked on  the Alcan Highway  by making  October 25                                                               
Alaska Highway Day.                                                                                                             
2:00:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MACKINNON  asked Ms. Rollins  if she has any  photos from                                                               
the building of the highway.                                                                                                    
MS. ROLLINS said she did not.                                                                                                   
2:01:13 PM                                                                                                                    
VERDIE  BOWEN, Director,  Veterans Affairs,  Anchorage, testified                                                               
in  favor  of  SB  46.  He noted  the  major  feat  by  President                                                               
Roosevelt to  bring 11,000  to work  on the  Alaska Highway.   He                                                               
described  the discrimination  and poor  conditions the  African-                                                               
American soldiers  experienced during the building  of the Alaska                                                               
Highway.  He described  the amazing  feat  the men  accomplished.                                                               
They  showed  the world  that  the  African-American soldier  was                                                               
equal and  capable. In  1948, the army  was re-integrated  due to                                                               
their accomplishments. He spoke in  support of providing a day to                                                               
celebrate this accomplishment.                                                                                                  
2:04:15 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID NEES, representing himself, testified  in support of SB 46.                                                               
He  spoke   in  favor   of  recognizing   these  men   and  their                                                               
accomplishments  made   in  spite   of  hardships.   He  provided                                                               
additional information  about the  hardships during  the building                                                               
of the highway.                                                                                                                 
2:06:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JEAN POLLARD,  Chair, Alaska Highway Memorial  Project, testified                                                               
in support of  SB 46. She described how she  became interested in                                                               
this  topic  and  how National  Geographic  denied  Ms.  Morgan's                                                               
story. She gave credit to Ms. Morgan for her important efforts.                                                                 
MS. POLLARD related  that she called Washington,  D.C. to discuss                                                               
the story and was informed that  the Alaska Highway was number 16                                                               
out  of 46  events that  promoted civil  rights. Because  of what                                                               
those men did,  the military became integrated  and the Territory                                                               
of Alaska became a part of the United States.                                                                                   
She told a story about  then-Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer stating that                                                               
without the assistance of Black  soldiers, the ALCAN would likely                                                               
have never been built in such  record time. She concluded that it                                                               
is time to honor these men  and she knows of three soldiers still                                                               
living.  She  suggested there  be  a  statewide celebration.  She                                                               
thanked the committee.                                                                                                          
2:13:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SHALA  DOBSON,   Secretary,  Alaska  Highway   Memorial  Project,                                                               
testified in  support of SB 46.  She related her interest  in the                                                               
Alaska Highway Project and the  decision to provide curriculum to                                                               
students  about this  story. Having  an Alaska  Highway Day  will                                                               
provide  an  occasion  to  discuss the  story.  She  thanked  the                                                               
CHAIR STEDMAN closed public testimony on SB 46.                                                                                 
2:16:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WILSON thanked the committee.                                                                                           
SENATOR MACKINNON asked if Senator  Wilson has reached out to the                                                               
public to find additional images.                                                                                               
SENATOR WILSON  noted that this  is a year-long project.  He said                                                               
his staff has not reached out to the public yet.                                                                                
SENATOR MACKINNON suggested doing an op-ed.                                                                                     
2:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BISHOP  also  suggested  reaching  out  to  the  British                                                               
Columbia Government.                                                                                                            
CHAIR STEDMAN held SB 46 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB33 ver A 2.8.17.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33 Transmittal Letter 2.8.17.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33 Fiscal Note DOT-MVO 2.8.17.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB 33 - Governor's Press Release.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33 - contest announcement.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33 - contest winners.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33 - Hubbard essay winner Taylor Thompson Eagle River High School.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB33- Tazlina essay winner Malea Voran Port Alsworth School.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 33
SB 46, version A.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 Sponsor Statement - African American Day.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 Sectional Analysis - African American Day.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 - Letter of Support - Ed Wesley.PDF STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 - Sen. Sullivan support.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 - October 25th – African American Soldiers - Final.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46
SB46 - Fiscal Note DMVA.pdf STRA 2/14/2017 1:30:00 PM
SB 46