The Legacy of The Mare Island Original 21ers

A special SF Beer Week release event

The original 21ers, all standing around a memorial monument.

The Story that inspired the beer

To mark the release of “The 21ers” Black Lager, we're hosting a special release event during SF Beer Week highlighting the people and historic Bay Area civil rights movement that inspired the beer. Join us at our Coal Shed Brewery to celebrate the release and enjoy a short speaking program (approx. 30min.) about the Mare Island Original 21ers, and how their actions in the 1960s led to major reform in decades of discriminatory labor practices at Mare Island Naval Shipyard and beyond.

Join Us Feb. 17 at 6pm at our Coal Shed Brewery:

  • Hear from Jake Sloan (author, activist, and member of the Original 21), and Brendan Riley (author, veteran reporter, and local historian). After speaking, Jake and Brendan will also be around for book signings and questions.
  • The bar and food truck will be open for purchase
  • $1 of each pint of “The 21ers” sold will go to the Michael James Jackson Foundation, supporting technical training and career advancement for black, indigenous , and people of color in the brewing and distilling industries.

The event is free to attend, but RSVP is required.


Jake Sloan

Author, activist, and Original 21er Jake Sloan will be speaking on his experience fighting for civil rights at Mare Island. He’ll also have the latest edition of his book, Standing Tall: Willie Long & the Mare Island Original 21ers – just revised this January – available for purchase and signing.

Brendan Riley

Local historian, celebrated veteran reporter, and author of Lower Georgia Street: California’s Forgotten Barbary Coast, Brendan Riley, will also speak on the broader context of civil rights within the history of Vallejo and Mare Island.

About the Mare Island Original 21ers

On Nov. 17, 1961, a small, determined group of African-American workers on Mare Island Naval Shipyard bypassed their shipyard bosses, and complained directly to a Washington, D.C., committee that they faced racial discrimination in hiring, working conditions, pay, training, and promotions.

The efforts of that group, known as the Mare Island Original 21ers, led to sweeping change in the unequal labor practices at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Most of the 21ers were eventually promoted to positions previously unavailable to them, and their efforts played a part in influencing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other affirmative action that continue to benefit African Americans across the United States today.

In 2007, Congress officially updated the Congressional Record to recognize the role of the 21ers in remedying racial discrimination at the shipyard. In 2010, a commemorative stone honoring the members was unveiled at Mare Island’s Alden Park, not far from our Coal Shed Brewery.