Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
San Luis Obispo's "Colored"
by Daniel M. Sebby, Military Historian,
California Military Department
The former USO building
for African American soldiers in San Luis Obispo, circa 2015
Most long term San Luis Obispans know
that the Edward G. and Ida E. Ludwick Community Center located
at the corner of Santa Rosa and Mill Streets was the World War
II USO serving the soldiers from Camp San Luis Obispo. But only
white soldiers. In reviewing contemporary post newspapers, there
were several references to a second USO located in San Luis Obispo
that provided African-American soldiers with a place to go.
Most of these solders were permanently assigned to Camp San Luis
Obispo as members of Corps Area Service Unit (after 1942, Service
Command Unit) 1947 (Station Complement) and other "Colored"
units from the camp and the 54th Coast Artillery Regiment (155mm
Gun, Towed) (Colored) that was headquartered at Morro Bay State
Park and its coastal defense positions that were located up and
down the central coast.
According to local historian, Dr. Dan Krieger, the USO that serviced
the African American servicemen was located at 879 Morro Street,
across the street from the former San Luis Obispo City-County
Library. The building, known as Steve Zegar's furniture store
during the 1950's and 1960's, has since gone through a major
renovation and is now a City of San Luis Obispo governmental
Unlike most communities across the nation, this facility wasn't
relegated to poor or segregated part of town. San Luis Obispo's
African American USO was in the middle of a "white"
town. It was four blocks from the "white" USO, about
a block from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, County Courthouse
and City Hall and right next to the city's China Town.
Article on San Luis
Obispo's two USO's circa 11 November 1942 (San Luis Obispo Tribune)
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