Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Will you be near Pittsburg, California?

19 July 2024, in Pittsburg, to be precise.

According to Wikipedia: The Port Chicago disaster was a deadly munitions explosion of the ship SS E. A. Bryan on July 17, 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California, United States. Munitions being loaded onto a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations detonated killing 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others.

A month later, the unsafe conditions prompted hundreds of servicemen to refuse to load munitions, an act known as the Port Chicago Mutiny. Fifty men‍—‌called the "Port Chicago 50"‍—‌were convicted of mutiny and sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor, as well as a dishonorable discharge. Forty-seven of the 50 were released in January 1946; the remaining three served additional months in prison.

Now there is a stage play, 19 July 2024, in Pittsburg, California.

Join us in commemorating the 80th anniversary of Port Chicago Remembrance Day with the captivating theatrical performance of PORT CHICAGO 50.

 PORT CHICAGO 50 is a powerful and poignant play that brings to life the story of fifty African American sailors who stood up against racial injustice during World War II. Set against the backdrop of the Bay Area's Port Chicago Naval Magazine explosion of 1944, the play delves into the sailors' courageous refusal to return to illegally-hazardous working conditions under Jim Crow segregation, an act of defiance that led to their court-martial and ultimately helped spark the desegregation of the US Navy. Through compelling performances and evocative storytelling, PORT CHICAGO 50 sheds light on a pivotal moment in American history, celebrating the bravery and resilience of these unsung heroes.

The Houston Riot was a prior instance of racial issues facing the military.

The Houston race riot of 1917, also known as the Camp Logan Mutiny, was a mutiny and riot by 156 soldiers from the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army, taking place on August 23, 1917, in Houston, Texas. The incident occurred within a climate of overt hostility from members of the all-white Houston Police Department (HPD) against members of the local black community and black soldiers stationed at Camp Logan. Following an incident where police officers arrested and assaulted black soldiers, many of their comrades mutinied and marched to Houston, where they opened fire and killed eleven civilians (including minor, Freddie Winkler) and five policemen. Five soldiers were also killed.

In accordance with policies of the time, 118 soldiers were tried in three courts-martial. 110 were convicted, of whom 19 were executed and 63 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Gregg Andrews, author of Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle, wrote that the riot "shook race relations in the city and created conditions that helped to spark a statewide surge of wartime racial activism".

In November 2023, the Army set aside all 110 convictions.

There is a movie: ‘The 24th’ Tells the Overlooked Story of a Texas Race Riot That Led to the Largest Murder Trial in U.S. Military History."

On 26 July 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, Desegregating the Military.

More recently, we have U.S. DoD Internal Review Team Report on Racial Disparities in the Investigative and Military Justice System. From the Strategic Context:

Yet almost 75 years later, the Services continue to struggle with racial disparities in the military.14 Racial disparities have been shown to have far-ranging impacts on military promotions and leadership assignment processing.15 The IRT’s review is focused on the racial disparities that continue to exist in DoD’s investigative and military justice systems.

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