*The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center remembers Port Chicago 70 years later not only with their own observations, but in noting other collaborations to see that those who died and risked their lives there, did not do so in vain.
The National Park Service and the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial will host a special event “Port Chicago Disaster at 70: A Symposium on Race and The Military During World War II.”
In July of 1944, the largest explosion on the mainland of the United States jolted the Bay Area, instantly killing 320 sailors, the majority of whom were young African Americans. The subsequent refusal of fifty of the remaining sailors to resume loading munitions until their safety could be assured resulted in the most significant mutiny trial in our history. Their cause, supported by Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, ultimately led to the desegregation of the Navy and later the entire military.
A commemorative ceremony of the explosion is held annually by the National Park Service.
The National Park Service and the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial will present two FREE events (July 17 & 19) highlighting the tragic disaster in Concord during World War II that led to the desegregation of the United States military. The symposium on Race in the Military will be held Thursday, July 17th 2014 from 8:30 am- 12:30 pm at Diablo Valley College, 321 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill, California. Click here to register.
Speakers for the symposium and panel discussion include: Leon Litwack (Professor Emeritus of History, University of California at Berkeley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for “Been in the Storm So Long: the Aftermath of Slavery”); Maggi Morehouse (Associate Professor of History at Coastal Carolina University, author of “Fighting in the Jim Crow Army: Black Men and Women Remember World War II”); Carolyn Johnston (Professor of History and American Studies at Eckerd College, author of “My Father’s War: Fighting with the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II”); Steve Sheinkin (Author of “The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights”); J. Vern Cromartie (Professor of Sociology at Contra Costa College).
The symposium on race and the military will be moderated by John A. Lawrence, former Chief of Staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Robert Allen (Adjunct Professor, Retired, of African American Studies at University of California at Berkeley, author of “The Port Chicago Mutiny”).
Port Chicago is one of America’s darkest and long forgotten secrets. The black sailors who served their country under horrific conditions deserve recognition for their journey in the segregated Navy. Since 1999 the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC), under the leadership of Sandra Evers-Manly, who formed a support group for the African American men who served in Port Chicago, brings them together to commemorate the tragic day of July 17, 1944. While most of the survivors have passed on, some of them still live and the BHERC commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Port Chicago Blast – the largest military disaster on American soil.
For detailed information contact BHERC at 310.284.3170 or visit online at www.bherc.org.
This week EURweb.com presents a special edition rebroadcast of “Port Chicago 1944: Singed and Unsung Heroes By The Sea.”
Listen to the compelling story below: