|Port Chicago 50 : disaster, mutiny, and the fight for civil rights|
Author: Sheinkin, Steve
The story of 50 black sailors who stood up for their rights and faced mutiny charges during WWII.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 6.70
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 163116
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 7.40
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 62377
Common Core Standards
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 8 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/13)
School Library Journal (02/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (02/14)
The Hornbook (00/03/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2014 Sheinkin presents the compelling tale of African-American sailors who enlisted with the expectation of serving on vessels bound for the European or Asian theaters of operation and instead found themselves loading arms onto carriers at the California base of Port Chicago. All recognized the importance of the task, but the fact that only black seamen were assigned to the labor and nobody received training in handling the munitions (some of it “hot cargo” with attached detonators) bred further resentment against the policy of racial discrimination that was enforced throughout the military. An explosion, which was all but inevitable, killed 320 sailors on July 17, 1944 and left many of the survivors understandably reluctant to return to the loading docks. When several divisions were reassigned shortly after the explosion, fifty seamen refused the assignment and were subsequently brought up on charges of mutiny. Sheinkin handily sketches in the background of segregation at the time period and allows much of the episode to unfold through first-hand accounts and extensive excerpts from the trial itself, supplying commentary to assist readers in following the prosecution and defense strategies. The result is a gripping narrative that underscores the tragic fallout from misguided military policy, while involving readers in the courtroom debate and the exact meaning of “mutiny.” The fifty now-deceased defendants (all convicted, all released back into active duty after serving a fraction of the original sentence, some pardoned) remain in a posthumous legal limbo, and only a later generation can rally for the conviction to be overturned and restore reputations—sounds like a challenge some blossoming activists might want to take on in their near futures. Black and white photographs, citations, extensive resources arranged by documents type, and an index are included. EB - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 02/01/2014 The award-winning author of Bomb (2012) returns with another compelling American history narrative. This time Sheinkin takes on the Port Chicago 50, a group of African American sailors who were court-martialed and convicted of mutiny when they refused to continue loading ammunition after experiencing a terrifying accidental explosion that destroyed the entire port. Tracing the history of racial discrimination in the U.S. armed forces, Sheinkin describes the U.S. Navy’s long-standing policy of restricting duties for African American servicemen, the unfair treatment the divisions received at the segregated Port Chicago facility, and the dangerous working conditions facing the sailors there, including a lack of training on how to properly handle explosives, and competitions that encouraged reckless practices. Sheinkin’s narrative shines as he recounts the frustrating court-martial trial that resulted in a guilty verdict for all 50 men, which still stands today despite repeated attempts to exonerate the sailors. Photos, reproductions of primary documents, and direct quotes from the sailors themselves flesh-out this account of a little-known piece of civil rights history. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2014 Gr 7 Up—In the summer of 1944, 50 sailors, all of them African American, were tried and convicted of mutiny by the U.S. Navy. They had refused to follow a direct order of loading dangerous rockets and munitions on ships bound for battle in the Pacific after an enormous explosion had killed more than 300 of their fellow sailors and other civilians working on the dock. At the heart of this story is the rampant racism that permeated the military at all levels, leaving minority sailors and soldiers to do the drudge work almost exclusively while their white counterparts served on the front lines. Through extensive research, Sheinkin effectively re-creates both the tense atmosphere at Port Chicago before and after the disaster as well as the events that led to the men's refusal of this one particular order that they felt put them directly in harm's way. Much of the tension in this account stems from the growing frustration that readers are meant to feel as bigotry and discrimination are encountered at every turn and at every level of the military. There is a wealth of primary-source material here, including interviews with the convicted sailors, court records, photographs, and other documents, all of which come together to tell a story that clearly had a huge impact on race relations in the military. This is a story that remains largely unknown to many Americans, and is one of the many from World War II about segregation and race that is important to explore with students. Abundant black-and-white photos, extensive source notes, and a thorough bibliography are included.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.