Standing Tall: The Story of Willie Long and the Mare Island Original 21ers

Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum will host a book signing with Jake Sloan, author of “Standing Tall: The Story of Willie Long and the Mare Island Original 21ers.” In 1961, there were an estimated one thousand plus African Americans working at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, with the great majority of them being men. For decades, they had suffered under organized, systematic, and, sometimes, unconscious discriminatory working conditions in hiring, training, promotions, and equal pay opportunities. In many ways, the working conditions for those in the production shops were better than those found in the private sector for similar work, especially in the building trades.

However, increasingly there had been growing dissatisfaction with the status quo among a small but growing group of the African American workers, especially among those working in the “skill” trades. In 1961, a relatively small group of the African American workers led by Willie Long, decided to organize and file a complaint of discrimination with the Federal Government.

Notwithstanding resistance and foot-dragging from the leadership in Washington, at Mare Island, and eventual internal strife within the group’s leadership, that action helped to bring about slow but measurable long-term change at The Shipyard, as well as at other federal installations in the Bay Area and beyond.


Date(s) - Sat, Jul 22, 2017
1:00 pm


Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum
734 Marin St., Vallejo


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