Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
San Luis Obispo's "Colored" USO, 1941-1945
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 office building.

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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Updated 8 February 2016