The Port Chicago National Memorial commemorates an event of major significance during World War II. On July 17, 1944, a devastating explosion took the lives of 320 persons. It was the largest home-front disaster during World War II. Most of those who died were young African American sailors. Other fatalities included Navy officers, crew members, Navy Armed Guards, civilian workers, as well as Marine and Coast Guard personnel. The explosion destroyed the base and severely damaged the nearby town of Port Chicago, injuring several hundred residents.
Marcus Shelby and his Jazz Orchestra will launch their new CD, Port Chicago, at Yoshi’s Jazz Club on February 21 and 22 in Oakland. EJS commissioned the renowned jazz bass player and composer to create a musical tribute to the African American sailors who were tried for mutiny following their work stoppage after an explosion at Port Chicago (northeast of San Francisco) during World War II.
The jazz suite is based on The Port Chicago Mutiny, a book by UC Berkeley professor and Black Scholar editor Dr. Robert Allen. After being out of print for several years, EJS is collaborating with Heyday Press to republish the Dr. Allen’s book.
Called “a gripping exposé of a shocking injustice,” by Publishers Weekly and “a compelling tale,” by the Boston Globe, The Port Chicago Mutiny is a thorough and engrossing work of U.S. history and civil rights literature. With a new epilogue from the author, The Port Chicago Mutiny raises questions about the powers of the military, about the prosecution of civil disobedience, and about the rights of the individual-issues as relevant today as they were sixty years ago.
Sunday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m. — Robert L. Allen will discuss and sign copies of The Port Chicago Mutiny: The Story of the Largest Mass Mutiny Trial in U.S. Naval History. Listening party of “The Port Chicago Mutiny” CD by the Marcus Shelby Jazz Band to follow. Café Royale, 800 Post Street at Leavenworth, San Francisco. Free and open to the public; for information, call (415) 441-4099.