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The Port Chicago 50 : Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
by Steve Sheinkin


Overview -

An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away.  Read more...


 
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More About The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
 
 
 
Overview

An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.
This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America's armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781596437968
  • ISBN-10: 1596437960
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publish Date: January 2014
  • Page Count: 208
  • Reading Level: Ages 11-14
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > History - Military & Wars
Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > History - United States/20th Century
Books > Juvenile Nonfiction > People & Places - United States - African-American

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-11-11
  • Reviewer: Staff

Sheinkin delivers another meticulously researched WWII story, one he discovered while working on his Newbery Honor book, Bomb. The accidental explosion at Port Chicago, a California Navy base where African-American servicemen loaded ammunition onto ships, killed more than 300 soldiers and injured nearly 400. The author carefully details how this long-forgotten event from 1944 was pivotal in helping end segregation in the military. Though not as fast-paced as Bomb, the dialogue-laden narrative draws heavily on past interviews with the servicemen, telling the story from their perspective. Ordered to load ammunition without proper training—and often in a competitive atmosphere fostered by their white officers—50 African-American sailors refused to return to the same work after the disaster. Readers get a front-row seat at their mutiny trial through myriad trial transcript excerpts. Tried and convicted, their convictions still stand today despite efforts to expunge the now-deceased men’s records. Archival photos appear throughout, and an extensive bibliography, source notes, and index conclude this gripping, even horrific account of a battle for civil rights predating Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. Ages 10–14. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Jan.) ■

 
BookPage Reviews

Little boys and girls, join hands

Remembering the sacrifices and successes of African Americans—from unexpected champions of civil rights to talented performers who dreamed big—is one of the most inspiring ways to celebrate Black History Month. If we keep teaching our children well, racism just may someday be a thing of the past.

LOST LIVES

In The Port Chicago 50, Steve Sheinkin, author of the Newbery Honor book Bomb, tells the harrowing story of the fight for the lives and rights of 50 black sailors. 

On July 17, 1944, more than 300 sailors were killed and almost 400 were injured when several thousand tons of explosives aboard two ships detonated at the Port Chicago naval base in California. When the surviving sailors went back to work, they refused to obey orders to load munitions again. They were too scared to do such a dangerous job without the proper training. It was also worrisome that no white sailors were ordered to load munitions at Port Chicago. Charged with mutiny and facing the death penalty after their continued refusal, the sailors became unsung heroes in the heated battle for racial equality.

Painstakingly researched through recorded interviews, The Port Chicago 50 vividly recounts the fear and anxiety surrounding the explosion. From 17-year-old sailors to respected, 23-year-old informal leader Joseph Smalls, Sheinkin provides powerful first-hand accounts of these events. Long, complicated court transcripts and documents are presented as edge-of-your-seat drama. 

Sheinkin does an admirable job describing for young readers the profound impact these sailors had on civil rights and the integration of the Navy. This is a fascinating read on an important event in U.S. history. 

 
BAM Customer Reviews