The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
By Steve Sheinkin
Before WWII, many African-Americans enlisted in the army to fight. The army was segregated and all they could do to help the war effort is load ammunition or be a mess servant. People like Joseph “Joe” Small, Percy Robinson, Robert Routh, and Spencer Sikes were assigned to load ammunition at Port Chicago.
Welcome to Port Chicago. You will be loading ammunition onto war ships. Be careful, this stuff can explode if you drop it.
Ahhhhhh! The ammunition, it exploded!
I'm not loading ammo anymore after this!
Nobody follows the "Column Left" order because they are afraid of loading ammunition, so the officers accuse the men of mutiny.
The accused mutineers were then moved to a prison barge to await their trial.
The court trial was held on September 14, 1944 in a barracks room with the furniture moved out.
The Port Chicago 50 lost the trial, with the judges being Naval Officers, and were accused of mutiny with a 15 year sentence.