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The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin was the recipient of the 2020 Edwards Award, the Horn Book Award, and was a National Book Award finalist. On July 17, 1944, an ammunitions accident at the segregated Port Chicago Navy base killed hundreds of sailors. When the African American service men refused to continue moving explosives in unsafe work conditions they were charged with mutiny. This book details how racism plagued America as the nation fought for freedom abroad.

It was fascinating learning about Joe Small, the de facto leader of the Port Chicago 50. He was a charismatic individual with a natural ability to lead others. Racism kept him from rising in the ranks, but his fellow sailors respected him and regularly sought his advice.

This title is ideal for history buffs, particularly those interested in World War II, Civil Rights, and events skipped over by our history textbooks.
Looking for readalikes? try A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield and Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin Sandler.
Find The Port Chicago 50 on Libby/Overdrive by searching the Boston Public Library’s collection (found under the Partner Libraries drop down).
(Reviewed by Colleen)

 

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