Opened in 1942, in the segregated army of World War II, the USO Club served as a home away from home for African American soldiers stationed at Camp Shelby. This building is the only remaining USO constructed especially for African American soldiers in public use in the United States. It is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is a Mississippi Landmark.
Beginning with the Buffalo Soldiers of the post–Civil War era through the modern-day conflicts of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the museum bears witness to the service and sacrifice of the African American soldier. Hundreds of artifacts, photos and unique displays, including one of the most complete sets of authentic Spanish-American War medals, fill the restored main hall. Each item tells a story of pioneers such as Hattiesburg’s own Jesse L. Brown, America’s first black naval aviator, and lesser-known heroes such as Ruth Bailey Earl, also of Hattiesburg, whose image and actions represented the more than 500 black nurses who served during World War II.
Their acts of valor and bravery while under fire are presented with honor at Hattiesburg’s African American Military History Museum at the Historic USO Club, so that we may be inspired by their courage and patriotism