Books: Non-Fiction

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

Book — Non-fiction. By Steve Sheinkin. 2014. 208 pages.
The story of 50 African American sailors charged with mutiny during World War II for challenging working conditions after a deadly munitions explosion.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 1920
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

portchicago50_9781596437968In 1944, an explosion resulting from officers’ gross safety violations killed 320 sailors and civilians, primarily African American, in Port Chicago, California. Following the explosion, many surviving sailors refused to return to work until the lethal conditions were addressed. The top (white) military brass responded with accusations of mutiny.

Despite threats of a firing squad, 50 African American sailors stood their ground. They were found guilty and sentenced to federal prison.

Drawing on oral histories collected by Robert Allen, Steve Sheinkin’s book, The Port Chicago 50, for young adults provides an engrossing introduction to not only the Port Chicago 50 but also to Jim Crow in the World War II military. The book is full of stories of the brave servicemen who stood for justice in the face of accusations of cowardice and treason. The reader learns of the tactics used to divide them and the support they received from the African American press, Thurgood Marshall, and the NAACP. [Description by Rethinking Schools.]

Read more about the Port Chicago Explosion.

ISBN: 9781596437968 | Roaring Brook Press