How the Mare Island '21ers' Fought for the Rights of Black Shipyard Workers

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The U.S. Navy Yard at Mare Island in 1870. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In “Standing Tall,” author Jake Sloan tells the story of the Mare Island “21ers,” who were African-American construction workers at Vallejo’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard in the 1960s. Facing insidious and chronic discrimination, a handful of the workers protested and filed a complaint with the federal government for mistreatment, despite fears of retribution. Their actions led to slow but systemic change, which benefited black workers in the construction industry and beyond. Sloan worked at Mare Island at the time and described himself as a young "foot soldier" in the 21ers movement.

Jake Sloan,
author, "Standing Tall: Willie Long and the Mare Island Original 21ers"; owner, Davillier-Sloan Construction Company