All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors (1934)

by J. Otto Schweizer (1863 - 1955)

Photo Caption: Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art
Logan Square, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street
1934

Commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Honorable Samuel Beecher Hart, a Pennsylvania legislator and captain of the Gray Invincibles, proposed the memorial

  • Installed in a remote area in West Fairmount Park in 1934

  • Relocated in 1994 to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as originally proposed

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.

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

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.

detail of All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

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).

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

Voices heard in the program:

Charles Fuller is a playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize in drama for “A Soldier’s Play.”

Samuel Hart Jones, Jr. is a great-grandson of the Hon. Samuel Beecher Hart, whose efforts resulted in the All Wars Memorial.

Michael B. Roepel 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

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, audio download, or on the web – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation. Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

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This artwork is part of the Along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway tour

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