Walter Robinson American Legion Post 450

Sewickley Black History Tour

Walter Robinson American Legion Post 450

Sewickley, Pennsylvania 15143, United States

Created By: Sweetwater Center for the Arts


Walter Robinson American Legion Post 450
20 Chadwick Street, Sewickley

Named for Sewickley’s first Black man to die as a result of a WWI injury, the Walter Raleigh Robinson American Legion, Post 450 was founded in 1922. The U.S. American Legions War Veterans’ organization provided respite for members of the armed forces and for those coming home from conflict and war. Its founding is attributed to Valley Col. Robert Way and senior commander of Sewickley Post No. 4 and comrade Harry Winston of Coraopolis. The legionnaires first held meetings in homes and churches, then in 1944 acquired this historic building. This was the old Sewickley Railroad Station built in 1887. In 1929 the railroad tracks were moved to make way for Ohio River Boulevard and the building was loaded onto flatcars and moved to its present location. The Legion became a social hub for Blacks in the area, as well as Pittsburgh. The Pavilion added to the back of the Legion was first used for boxing tournaments. In the 1940’s through the 1960’s it was the place where big named bands played, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Buddy and Ella Johnson, Ruth Brown, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Amons, Bill Doggett, “Bull Moose” Jackson, Wood Herman, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Stan Getz, Jackie Wilson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price. It was also used by the community for wedding receptions, school proms, local dances, Christmas parties, and the Come On Home festivities. The Legion had a drill team, organized by Jesse Stotts, named the Walter Robinson American Legion Post 450 Drill Team. They march in the Sewickley and Leetsdale annual parades, as well as in Pittsburgh and across the state. In 1965, they marched in Washington D.C. during the American Legion National Convention down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Black History of the Time (1922-2013)
The American Legion organization was founded in 1919. Posts began forming all over the country quickly and the first posts dedicated to serving Black veterans began in that same year. With segregation practiced throughout the country, the American Legion left it up to each state to decide if they would allow African Americans to join the existing posts. We did not find evidence of one that was integrated. In turn, Black veterans chartered their own posts throughout Black neighborhoods across the country. These posts often became integral parts of the Black communities where they were located. The story of Walter Robinson American Legion post 450 is a familiar one. Often being the only location in town where Blacks could gather safely for large events, the posts became the centers for social activities in the communities.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Sewickley Black History Tour


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