Black History Month Honored at SJND | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


Black History Month Honored at SJND

Spencer Sikes

The SJND Black History Month assembly on Feb. 13 honored the 70th anniversary of the Port Chicago munitions factory explosion that killed 320 mostly African American men and injured 400 others in nearby Contra Costa County.

Spencer Sikes II ’81, an alumnus of SJND whose son attends the school today, talked about his father, who worked at the Navy munitions base in 1944. Today, Sikes is instrumental in the call to remember the victims and absolve the 50 sailors who were dishonorably discharged at Port Chicago for refusing to pack munitions ships after the deadly blast.

The presentation included a Skype session with a New York author, Steve Sheinkin, whose book The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was released last month.

Sikes was also joined by Morris Soublet ’62, also SJND alumni and former faculty member, whose father also worked at Port Chicago.

“It’s an honor to bring this story back to my school,” said Sikes. “This is an important story.”

Soublet recalled the harrowing details of how his father survived the blast, despite having a locker fall on top of him at the base in Contra Costa County.

The assembly was planned by the African American Student Association at SJND.