Monday, December 1, 2014

The Port Chicago 50 (first three chapters)

Who are some historical figures who have contributed to society?
What are a list of qualities that heroic figures share?

Dorie Miller was an African-American mess attendant in the Navy. He received the Navy Cross, the highest honor given by the United States Navy, for heroically saving his fellow sailors during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The first chapter ends with Admiral Chester Nimitz's anticipatory remarks, "I'm sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts." and Dorie Miller returning to his duties as a mess attendant, collecting laundry.

What impact did this opening chapter have on you as a reader? 

How is Steve Sheinkin setting the stage for his story?

The Policy

According to the United States Department of Defense website
When African Americans were allowed into the Navy again in 1932, it was as stewards and mess attendants.
The Navy began rethinking its policies when the nation entered World War II in December 1941. Navy officials had to deal with a shortage of manpower and well- focused political activities. But thousands of patriotic black men also clamored to join, inspired by the heroics of black sailors like Doris "Dorie" Miller and Leonard Roy Harmon.
One of the first American heroes of the war, Miller had been a mess attendant on the battleship USS West Virginia during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Though he had no gunnery training, Miller took charge of an anti- aircraft machine gun when its crew was disabled. Popular legend has it that he shot down several of the 29 enemy planes claimed that day. Ship's officers also cited him for his part in rescuing sailors who had jumped or been thrown overboard. Miller received the Navy Cross.  
Harmon, also a mess attendant, received the Navy Cross posthumously for valor during naval combat off Guadalcanal on Nov. 13, 1942.
The Navy would remain racially segregated in training and in most service units, but enlisted ratings opened to all qualified personnel in 1942.
The first African American officers in naval history were commissioned in 1944. The 12 commissioned officers and one warrant officer became known as the "Golden Thirteen."

If you'd like to read more about the influence of African American-owned newspapers, check out 
Black America's Double War and The Navy: Where do we stand

What is your first impression of Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox?

What is your first impression of Joe Small?


Present day Port Chicago is called the Concord Naval Weapons Station. It is home to the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial and part of the National Park Service.

Let's continue…

Read the chapters entitled Work And Liberty, The Lawyer, Hot Cargo, and The Explosion by December 6th

I want to leave you with a question to keep in your mind as you read through this book:

When is doing something wrong right?

No comments:

Post a Comment