(U.S. Naval Historical Center via Wikimedia Commons)
CONCORD, Calif. — In tandem with the approaching 75th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion — the deadliest home-front disaster of World War II — an California congressman has added an amendment to a federal bill that would exonerate 50 survivors of the accident who were convicted of mutiny for refusing to return to work in unsafe conditions.
We need to remember and embrace some of the lessons of battlefield excellence that all-black military units displayed during World War II. The perseverance, professionalism, courage, innovation, and sheer guts of all-black military units are significant for a number of reasons. First, the U.S. military was extremely segregated and maintained a structured system of bias toward blacks. Blacks were initially placed in non-combat specialties such as cooks, drivers, and orderlies and they were given second-class equipment and sometimes ineffective combat training. Second, unlike all other military personnel, blacks were told that they wouldn’t and couldn’t be good soldiers.