Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marcus Shelby's Port Chicago

One of my favorite artists in the world is SF bassist and progressive activist Marcus Shelby. He's a true renaissance man ala Paul Robeson - not affraid to speak and write about social justice and to use his art to raise people's consciousness and spirits to struggle for a better world.
I enjoyed a great evening last night at Yoshii's nightclub in Oakland with my school board colleague Mark Sanchez and my 5 year old daughter Jade to hear the Marcus Shelby Orchestra's performance and CD release of his latest 'Port Chicago' which was commissioned by the civil rights organization Equal Justice Society. Thanks to my friend and SF green party leader & school board candidate Kim Knox for introducing me to Marcus. Click here for more info on Marcus Shelby .
Port Chicago - Eric says 3 thumbs up. :-)

From the album notes -

Port Chicago is remembered as the northern California naval base where a devastating explosion in July 1944 killed more than 320 men, predominantly African American sailors, and injured 400 others. The sailors objected to the racial discrimination and manifestly unsafe working conditions at the base where only blacks were assigned to loading ammunition on ships. When 258 of the sailors protested in a work stoppage the Navy called it mutiny, setting in motion the largest mutiny trial in U.S. Navy history. In a sensational court martial 50 young black sailors were unjustly convicted. Thurgood Marshall, then special counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, flew to San Francisco to investigate the case. He charged that the young sailors were being made scapegoats for the conditions the Navy allowed at the base. Following the military trial, Marshall filed a strong appeal brief on behalf of the sailors, highlighting the racial discrimination at the base and in the trial. Although his appeal was rejected by the Navy Judge Advocate General, the public pressure
generated by a nationwide campaign in support of the sailors compelled the Navy to revamp its policies and begin the process of desegregation-a major civil rights victory. Although the imprisoned sailors were later released under a general amnesty after the war, their mutiny convictions have never been overturned. The injustice of their convictions cries out for redress, and reminds us of the price paid by many unsung heroes in the struggle for civil rights and justice.

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