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80th Anniversary of the Port Chicago Tragedy

Before retiring, John Patterson worked light and heavy blue collar, his law office, public secondary teaching and administration. When not writing his memoir, he tells true stories.

The 80TH Anniversary of the 1944 Naval TragedyLast month, I shared some history about the tragic explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Weapons Station during World War II. On the night of July 17, 1944, that calamitous detonation shook the S.F. Bay Area. With three hundred and twenty dead, including over two hundred African-American sailors, much about the circumstances of the then segregated Navy shook the nation.

Some of my readers did more research and informed me the National Park Service is hosting an 80th Anniversary commemoration on Saturday, July 20, at 10:30 am.

For more information: click here. Scroll down until you see the heading in the first smaller box on the left. Remember, you need at least two weeks to get clearance to go on this military base.

I first heard about this disaster in 1974 from Percy Edmunds, a San Francisco Civil Rights leader. At that time, with no other resources to use, it was difficult for me to get more information.

Over the passing years, I've looked for ways to share this horrible loss with others. It is difficult to bring these issues up politely, or at a minimum, have an informative conversation.

Looking for ways to share thoughts, I've taken up writing. I'm thankful for California Update allowing me this forum to present this information. I'm thankful for the internet providing resources I couldn't dream of nor imagine when I was a young activist.

I did not want to ignore this event. I started looking into it again. Now, after decades, I'm surprised and grateful to learn there is a memorial. I wanted more understanding of how things are the way they are now, why resentments and fears are so great when dealing with our institutions, and therefore, this is why it's important to learn about such sad and painful events.

In this way, we better appreciate and recognize all of ourselves. When we do that, we'll see the American people we were, are, and will become.

~ John Patterson