- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2015

A “slave auction” charity event took place as scheduled at a bar in Sitka, Alaska, on Sunday evening notwithstanding efforts from the NAACP.

The fundraiser has taken place every year for nearly three decades at Pioneer Bar in Sitka during the annual Alaska Day Festival — an event held to celebrate the transfer of the state from Russia to the U.S. But when the NAACP became aware of the “slave auction” aspect hours before it was scheduled to occur on Sunday, the civil rights group urged festival organizers to “immediately retract and remove” the event from its calendar.

“The connotation of buying and selling people against their will into slavery — that’s nothing to glorify,” Wanda Laws, the president of the NAACP’s chapter in Anchorage, told Alaska Dispatch News on Sunday. “I’d like them to change the name, I’m not asking them to cancel the event.”

Pioneer bartender Rita Ledbetter, the organizer of the auction, told Alaska Dispatch News that she didn’t know what the NAACP was but was “floored” by their objection.

“Tell them to stick their nose back in their own business and leave us alone,” Ms. Ledbetter told the newspaper early Sunday when questioned about the NAACP’s objections.

Sitka residents show up at the charity event and “auctioned” off their services to the highest bidder, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. Photographs uploaded to the bar’s Facebook page from the 2009 fundraiser depict participants with their hands bound behind their backs being sold to attendees; $5,000 in proceeds from the event that year ended up being donated to the Sitka Cancer Survivors Support group.

When telephoned early Monday and asked if the “slave auction” occurred as planned, an employee of the Pioneer Bar confirmed to The Washington Times that it went off without a hitch.

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