Sheinkin, Steve. Port Chicago 50. Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press 2014 193p $19.99 ISBN 978-1-59643-796-8 ms/hs Nonfiction E-BN
This book depicts an astounding event that changed the course of American history. Steve Sheinkin believes he stumbled on the Port Chicago 50 accidentally while researching another book; readers will think he was meant to tell the story of a group of African Americans that was treated unfairly by the U. S. Navy, for he tells the story with an excellent narrative writing style and organizational ability. Assigned to load bombs and other explosive materials at Port Charles, a group of African Americans had the courage to stand up for their rights after a huge explosion killed more than 300 men. Many refused to work after the explosion, challenging the commands of their white superiors. They were wrongfully blamed for causing a mutiny, especially Joe Small, the alleged ringleader. Under conditions that would have broken lesser men, the Port Chicago 50 endured defeat in a trial at the hands of a segregated navy who convinced itself that its way was the right way. Without the determination of the fifty, the support they received from young lawyer Thurgood Marshall, and advocates such as Eleanor Roosevelt, family members and other groups like the NAACP, these fifty might have remained in jail and been afforded a negative place in history. Instead, they retained their dignity, never giving up despite untold unfair conditions and bigotry.
All great movements -- in this case, the civil rights movement – have precursors. This story is enhanced by powerful quotations and photographs which, when combined with Sheinkin’s attention to detail, add a new voice to American history.
Summary: This book depicts an astounding event that changed the course of American history, the story of the Port Chicago 50. Assigned to load bombs and other explosive materials at Port Charles, a group of African Americans had the courage to stand up for their rights after an explosion killed more than 300 men, and endured defeat in the navy trial that followed, paving the way for the nascent Civil Rights Movement.
Civil rights, African Americans -–Martha Squaresky