The USO for Black Soldiers in World War II needs public support…..


Photo credit: ACES Museum

By:Charles Blatcher, III

Chairman, National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations


There is a building in Philadelphia at 5801 Germantown Avenue that should be the focus of public attention. The building is Parker Hall the home of ACES Museum a non- profit organization that honors the contributions and achievements of Black Americans in the defense of the nation. The brown stone building has another connection to Black History. It was the USO for Black Soldiers in Philadelphia during World War II.

Photo credit: ACES Museum

I once had the delightful opportunity to tour the museum with its founder Doctor AV Hankins. As we toured the rooms she spoke of plans to renovate the building and host educational programs and events. As we climbed a flight of stairs it became obvious that this building was special. Arriving at the top level, we entered the Grand Hall. A magnificent room minus most furnishings. However, the hardwood dance floor showed marks of many memorable evenings, the band-riser and a few cocktail tables spoke for the Era. One could feel a story there to be told. The room has not seen its last dance. By virtue of its history it has earned rejuvenation. The next event should be the celebration of the restoration of the building. Dr. Hankins’ and staff are well on the way in the process. With public support the next event in the Grand Hall could happen in 2020.


 Finding of support for many Black Cultural projects are difficult at best. Especially for organizations depending on the traditional forms of funding. Funding priorities change according to social needs. Therefore, it’s impossible to make long term institutional plans on short term funding. Unfortunately, Art and Culture projects are among the first things to be cut or eliminated from the corporate budget. There are fewer Black Cultural Institutions in existence today than during the Black Cultural Renaissance of the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. Those that are surviving have done so by diversifying their method of funding or by limiting the hours of operation. We are hopeful that we can help raise public awareness and support for the Parker Building. It is too much of a treasure to be lost. With the renovation it will truly be among the places to see on a visit to Philadelphia.

Work has begun on the exterior of the building out of necessity. We should all admire the tenacity of Dr. Hankins and staff for taking on the task of saving the building. The building is an important part of Philadelphia’s Black Military History. It is recognized by the Germantown Historical Society and the Historic Commission. ACES Museum is seeking historical landmark status on the structure.

Photo credit: ACES Museum

The museum is in need of one hundred thousand dollars to complete the structural upgrades. We are reaching out to the public to support the repair and restoration of this historical building and museum. Without public support the structure will be lost.

Help Save The History…….Please go to:

We invite you to contribute to this cause!!

To learn more about the ACES Museum and the Parker Building Project, contact Dr. AV Hankins At the following email address: Or call 1-215-842-3742.

  E-mail address:

“The deeds of our past, are the foundation of our future, LEST WE FORGET.”

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