The Port Chicago Mutiny

Paperback, 6 x 9, 244 pages,
with 16 pages of b&w photos.
ISBN: 9781597140287.


By Robert L. Allen

During World War II, Port Chicago was a segregated naval munitions base on the outer shores of San Francisco Bay. Black seamen were required to load ammunition onto ships bound for the South Pacific under the watch of their white officers—an incredibly dangerous and physically challenging task.

On July 17, 1944, an explosion rocked the base, killing 320 men—202 of whom were black ammunition loaders. In the ensuing weeks, white officers were given leave time and commended for heroic efforts, whereas 328 of the surviving black enlistees were sent to load ammunition on another ship. When they refused, fifty men were singled out and charged—and convicted—of mutiny. It was the largest mutiny trial in U.S. naval history. First published in 1989, The Port Chicago Mutiny is a thorough and riveting work of civil rights literature, and with a new preface and epilogue by the author emphasize the event’s relevance today.

Published in collaboration with the Equal Justice Society.


Robert L. Allen is an adjunct professor of African American studies and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Black Awakening in Capitalist America; Reluctant Reformers: The Impact of Racism on Social Movement in the U.S.; Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America; Strong in the Struggle; and Honoring Sergeant Carter: A Family’s Journey to Uncover the Truth About an American Hero. Allen is also editor (with founder Robert Chrisman) of the journal The Black Scholar. He has been the recipient of many honors and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Book Award (shared with co-editor Herb Boyd for Brotherman).