NAACP Angered by Alaska 'Slave Auction'

It will now be called the Alaska Day Auction
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 20, 2015 3:31 AM CDT
NAACP Angered by Alaska 'Slave Auction'
Women wearing 1860 period dresses dance to music Saturday in Sitka, Alaska, during the Alaska Day Festival celebration.   (James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel via AP)

Organizers of an annual Alaska charity event said Monday they'll stop calling it a "slavery auction" after the NAACP complained. The event in the town of Sitka involves people bidding in an auction on volunteers' time, with the winning bidders putting the volunteers to work doing odd jobs, like mowing lawns or cleaning gutters. It's part of Sitka's Alaska Day festivities, which commemorate the state's transfer of ownership from Russia to the US. Anchorage NAACP President Wanda Laws issued a news release drawing attention to the "slavery" name ahead of this year's auction, which took place Sunday.

Laws tells the AP she wanted to shine a spotlight on the auction name because it was "extremely inflammatory and insensitive." "You do not glorify the selling of another human being. You just don't do that," she says. "It's horrific." Rita Ledbetter, a bartender at the Pioneer Bar, which hosts the annual event, says 20 to 25 people volunteered to have their labor sold at the auction, It raised $3,000 for the local volunteer fire department. Ledbetter tells the AP that "it's a local, local thing, and I don't know why it's such a big deal," but the event will now be known as the "Alaska Day Auction." (More Alaska stories.)

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