Skip to main content

Make Black History: Sign The White House Petition to Pardon the Black WWII Sailors of Port Chicago


Two hundred and fifty-eight African-American World War II sailors were court-martialed, of whom fifty were convicted of mutiny, because they refused to continue loading munitions after an explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine near what is now the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California.  They refused to return to work because they had been relegated to the dangerous job of loading munitions because of their race.  It was the largest mass mutiny trial in U.S. Naval history.

On July 17, 1944, at 10:18 pm, an explosion occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine involving 4,606 tons of munitions, killing 320 cargo handlers, crewmen, and sailors.  According to the Navy’s own historical website (http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq80-1.htm ), African-American Navy personnel units were assigned to the dangerous work of loading munitions at Port Chicago under the supervision of white officers.  In his book  “The Port Chicago Mutiny:  The Story of the Largest Mass Mutiny Trial in U.S. Naval History,” author and U.C. Berkeley professor Dr. Robert Allen (http://africam.berkeley.edu/faculty/allen.html) quoted one of the African-American sailors convicted of mutiny as saying that the officers "encouraged" competition by the black sailors in loading munitions tonnage and threatened punishment or loss of privileges.

On August 9, 1944, 258 African-American Port Chicago sailors refused to return to the work of loading munitions.   When given the chance to reconsider their decision, 208 of the 258 were willing to return to work.  Instead, the 208 were subjected to summary courts-martial and given bad conduct discharges, and the remaining 50 were charged with mutiny.  After 32 days of hearing, 80 minutes of deliberation, and despite the presence of Thurgood Marshall and his call for a formal investigation by the government into the circumstances of the work stoppage, all 50 men were convicted of mutiny.  Marshall filed and argued an appeal on their behalf with the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Office in Washington, but the convictions were upheld.  Forty-seven of the fifty received clemency, were released from prison, and eventually left the Navy “under honorable conditions,” but their mutiny convictions stood.  Rep. George Miller (D-California), who represents the district where Port Chicago stood, sought to have the convictions of the 50 reversed, with no success.  The National Bar Association passed a resolution in 1998 calling for pardons for the 50 convicted of mutiny, with no success.  President Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of the 50 convicted of mutiny.

Now is the time for President Obama to grant redress of this racial wrong and pardon the remaining 257 of the African-American World War II sailors of Port Chicago who were court-martialed and/or convicted of mutiny, many of whom have passed away with this stain on their record of service to our country.  No American serviceman or servicewoman should be or should have ever been singled out for the most dangerous jobs in the military based solely on race.

Make Black history.  Sign the White House petition to pardon the remaining 257 African-American sailors of Port Chicago.  The link is below.
Black Woman Blogging

Short URL: http://wh.gov/vQzx

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Black Woman Blogging's Gun Control Proposal

Thanks to a relative who sent me death threats, I became a gun owner. Reluctantly.  What can I say.  You don't choose your family.

That said, I'm for gun control.

As far as I'm concerned, America lost its moral compass when we didn't do squat after Sandy Hook.  If you can allow a madman to murder children and not be moved to do nothing, you have no moral compass.  Period.

Now that we've broken an unfortunate record for the number of people killed in a mass shooting, perhaps we as a country are ready to get our minds right about gun control.  Perhaps.  So in that spirit, I offer my gun control proposal.

First, we need to agree on some real (not alternative) facts and principles:

1.  There is no such thing as an unlimited right.  Yes, people, there are no unlimited rights protected under the Constitution.  Your right to free speech?  Well, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment and even protected speech can be limited by time, place and manner.  Your…

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…