Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Joe Small: Port Chicago Oral History Project

Small, Joe
Allen, Robert
Joe Small: Port Chicago Oral History Project
Joe Small was born in 1921 in Savannah, Georgia, growing up on a New Jersey farm until he was drafted in to fight in World War II in 1943. Small served as a first class seaman in the Navy at Port Chicago Naval Magazine as a winch operator loading ammunition on ships. After the deadly explosion in July 1944, Small became seen as the de facto leader of the Port Chicago Fifty, a group of Black sailors charged with mutiny after refusing to return to the deadly and unsafe working conditions on the base. In this interview, Small discusses his experiences of working in Port Chicago under dangerous conditions and being charged of mutiny. He also recalls the discrimination he encountered in the wake of racial integration in the Navy.
Subject area(s):
Community and Identity
Interview date(s):
1978, 1980, 1985
Port Chicago
Copyright Joe Small 1985