All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors (c. 1934)
J. Otto Schweizer (1863–1955)
- Logan Square, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street (relocated 1994)
- Bronze and granite Height 21’6″; width 17′; depth 13′
- Initiated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Owned by the City of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park Commission
The Honorable Samuel Beecher Hart, a Pennsylvania legislator and captain of the Gray Invincibles, the last “colored” unit in the Pennsylvania Militia, proposed a memorial to the state’s African American military men who had served the United States in wartime. In 1927 funds were appropriated to construct “a lasting record of their unselfish devotion to duty.” After considerable dispute about placing the sculpture on the Parkway, officials agreed on a site in West Fairmount Park.
At the top of the All Wars Memorial, sculptor J. Otto Schweizer placed a “torch of life,” surrounded by four American eagles. Below, as the central figure at the front of the memorial, stands the allegorical figure of Justice, holding symbols of Honor and Reward. To the left and right are groups of African American soldiers and sailors, both officers and enlisted men. Allegorical figures at the rear of the monument represent the principles for which American wars have been fought.
In 1994 an extraordinary and overdue event occurred. Sixty years after its installation in a remote area of Fairmount Park, the city relocated the All Wars Memorial to a much more visible site on the Parkway, as originally proposed. A day of festivities was organized thanks to an enthusiastic civic group, The Committee to Restore and Relocate the All Wars Memorial.
Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).
All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors
Voices heard in the program:
Charles Fuller is a playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize in drama for "A Soldier's Play."
is a great-grandson of the Hon. Samuel Beecher Hart, whose efforts resulted in the All Wars Memorial.
is President of the Committee to Restore and Relocate the All Wars Memorial.
Segment Producer: Jonathan Menjivar
Music on All Wars Memorial for Colored Soldiers and Sailors
“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Written by:? James Weldon Johnson with music by John Rosamond Johnson
Performed by: Reginald R. Robinson
Courtesy of Reginald R. Robinson