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 Treasure Island Museum until July 7, 2019.

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