Alaska Black Caucus: Serving Community Since 1975
October 16, 2020
The Alaska Black Caucus (ABC) was founded in 1975 to serve the Anchorage community as a non-profit, bipartisan organization “genuinely concerned with the quality of education for our children and with enhancing the economy and political status of all Black people.” In its first decades, the ABC advocated for constitutional rights for all through publications, community outreach and annual banquets.
Notable attendees and speakers included actresses, singers and state politicians. Local members of note pictured here include JoAnn Overstreet, an ASD teacher for 20+ years; Pat Berkley, longtime ABC treasurer and President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs; Vertis Williams, longtime ABC Vice President; Marva Williams, an oil company executive; and Bettye Davis, former Alaska State Senator, ASD board trustee, and children’s education advocate (see our previous post on Bettye for more on her remarkable life).
In the 1990s, the ABC’s growth started to slow, as original members retired or moved out of state. The ABC was relaunched earlier this year. To learn more, check out @alaskablackcaucus.
Did you know the women above or anyone who attended ABC events in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s? Share your images and stories with @anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK to be added to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for more about the upcoming exhibition and follow #ExtraToughWomenAK to see new and past posts.
Special thanks to Celeste Hodge Growden and Dr. Louie Overstreet for their assistance in identifying the individuals in these photos.
Image credits: Alaska Black Caucus, Inc. records, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage; Image courtesy of Dr. Louie Overstreet.
Quote from the First Annual Awards Banquet program from January 29, 1977. Alaska Black Caucus, Inc. records, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.