The Port Chicago Story

Lighting the Fuse to Civil Rights
Event detail

On the night of July 17, 1944, two horrific explosions at Port Chicago Naval Magazine killed 320 men, 202 of whom were African American stevedores. Immediately following the disaster, white officers were granted leave, but the surviving 328 African American enlistees were ordered to load ammunition on another ship. The stevedores refused, citing a lack of training and poor safety standards. Fifty men were charged with mutiny, and the court-martial took place at Treasure Island. Though the outcome of the trial was grim, it eventually became the touchstone for the complete desegregation of the United States Armed Forces.

This exhibit tells the story of the explosions, the trial, and their impact. It is presented by the National Park Service, in partnership with the Treasure Island Museum and the San Francisco Public Library.

This exhibit is also on view at the San Francisco Public Library between April 27 and July 25, 2019.

Visiting hours at the Treasure Island Museum:
The exhibit is open to the public during working hours: 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 4 pm on those Saturdays when there is an event at the museum (including Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 and 9). Visitors should check the calendar at before coming.

Related event:
Lighting the Fuse to Civil Rights: The Port Chicago Trial on Treasure Island. Saturday, February 9, 2019, 1:00–4:30 pm. Panel experts will discuss how the Port Chicago disaster and ensuing mutiny trial contributed to the birth of the Civil Rights movement as well as pivotal racial and equity issues still being discussed today.

Learn more about this story at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial. The memorial is administered by the National Park Service and is located on Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTCO), an active military base. Due to its location, tours are only available with reservations on a ranger-guided tour. Visit for information on operating hours and to make a reservation.

Banner image courtesy of Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, POCH 27

Nota: Este evento se celebra fuera de los edificios de las bibliotecas públicas de San Francisco. Si tiene preguntas sobre este evento, póngase en contacto con la biblioteca que lo organiza: Biblioteca Central.

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