The Port Chicago 50

Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

audio cd

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"In San Francisco Bay there was a United States Navy base called Port Chicago. During World War II, it was a busy port where young sailors--many of them teenagers--loaded bombs and ammunition into ships bound for American troops in the Pacific. Like the entire Navy, Port Chicago was strictly segregated. All the officers giving orders were white; all the men loading bombs were black. On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked Port Chicago, killing 320 servicemen and injuring hundreds more. But the truly remarkable part of the story was still to come. Surviving black sailors were taken to a nearby base and ordered to return to the same exact work. More than 200 of the men refused unless the unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. The sailors called it standing up for justice. The Navy called it mutiny and threatened that anyone not immediately returning to …

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