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Democracy Awards

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Representing the 11th District of California

DeSaulnier Provision Requiring Navy To Investigate Treatment Of Sailors At Port Chicago Included In National Defense Authorization Act

April 28, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4909, which authorizes our nation’s defense spending. Included in the bill is a provision offered by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), which would require the Navy to investigate the circumstances surrounding the treatment of sailors at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Concord, California. The NDAA now moves to the floor of the House for consideration.

“Today marks an important milestone in the continued fight for recognition of the Port Chicago 50. A provision requiring the Navy to investigate whether racial bias was experienced by this group and to report their findings to Congress passed in the Armed Services Committee and is one step closer to becoming law,” said DeSaulnier.

While facing institutional segregation in the Navy, 435 African American sailors, who were not properly trained or supported, were killed or injured when a cargo vessel exploded. This incident accounted for more than 15 percent of all African American Naval casualties during World War II. When 50 of these men understandably refused to return to the unsafe working conditions that killed their fellow sailors, they were discriminately charged and convicted of mutiny.

“I appreciate the support this measure received from my colleagues, and I will continue working to move this legislative effort forward until all of these sailors are completely exonerated,” DeSaulnier concluded.