The Port Chicago 50

The Port Chicago 50

Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

eBook - 2014 | First edtion.
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Presents an account of the 1944 civil rights protest involving hundreds of African-American Navy servicemen who were unjustly charged with mutiny for refusing to work in unsafe conditions after the deadly Port Chicago explosion.
Publisher: New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2014.
Edition: First edtion.
ISBN: 9781596439832
1596439831
9781596437968
1596437960
Characteristics: 1 online resource (200 pages) : illustrations.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc
Alternative Title: Port Chicago fifty
Study Program: Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.7 6.0 163116.

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IndyPL_SteveB Jan 27, 2020

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion at the Port Chicago, California, Naval Base killed 320 servicemen and wounded hundreds more. Two ships were blown into non-existence, with pieces traveling as far as five miles. Most of the dead were the African American sailors who were loading ammunition. This was a major event in the history of World War II, the United States Navy, and the Civil Rights Movement, but very few people have heard about it.

The United States Military was still stiffly segregated in World War II; with the Navy being completely limited. ONLY African American sailors loaded the ammunition at Port Chicago. They were given no training on safety practices or the dangers of what they were doing.

Several days later, when the African American sailors were once again marched to a new dock to begin loading ammunition, without being informed about it and still without training, many of them refused to load the ammunition until the work conditions were improved. 50 were eventually court-martialed and convicted of mutiny in an obviously prejudiced trial. They were sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall witnessed part of the trial and spent months afterwards trying to get their convictions overturned. Eventually this incident helped create the push to integrate the Navy and the rest of the United States Armed Forces.

Very well-written.

k
KEBaileyG
Jan 23, 2019

This well-written and highly informative book examines the African-American servicemen who worked at the Chicago Port and the fight for civil rights at the time. During WWII, the armed forces were still segregated, and this book illustrates how African-American soldiers were discriminated against. One of the most disturbing facts recounted in this book describes how African-American servicemen were not properly trained to carry to load explosive cargo, paving the way to a tragic accident. The events described in this book resulted in what is called the Port Chicago Mutiny.

The black sailors at Port Chicago, in San Francisco Bay, were doing the only job they could in the navy in 1944, loading ammunition and bombs onto ships bound for war. With no training or safety precautions, it is not surprising that there was a major explosion. The surprise came when 50 of the sailors refused to return to that work, and were convicted of mutiny. Before Rosa Parks, before Jackie Robinson, before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Port Chicago.

The black sailors at Port Chicago, in San Francisco Bay, were doing the only job they could in the navy in 1944, loading ammunition and bombs onto ships bound for war. With no training or safety precautions, it is not surprising that there was a major explosion. The surprise came when 50 of the sailors refused to return to that work, and were convicted of mutiny. Before Rosa Parks, before Jackie Robinson, before Brown v. Board of Education, there was Port Chicago.

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