Port Chicago Disaster
During World War II, on July 17, 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California, munitions exploded while a vessel was being loaded, killing 320 people and injuring nearly 400 others. The majority of those killed were African American sailors. The unsafe conditions in which sailors were expected to load these vessels led to other servicemen refusing to load munitions about a month later. This act was known as the Port Chicago Mutiny, with those leading it being convicted of mutiny and sentenced to 15 years of prison and hard labor - in addition to receiving a dishonorable discharge. Court-martial proceedings were questioned during these events and in 1945 the guilty verdicts were upheld, but fueled other protests within the Navy related to race, and helping lead to desegregation in February of 1946.