104 years ago on July 28th, 1917
10,000 people march in the Silent Parade down Fifth Avenue to protest recent violence and riots aimed at Blacks in the South
Organized by the NAACP, James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B Du Bois, and local community leaders, the parade featured women and children dressed in all white clothing at the front, followed by men dressed in all black clothing. Although some marchers carried signs and banners, there was no chanting or singing, as it was meant to be a solemn demonstration. Each section of the parade had its own designated organizer, and nurses and physicians rode along the parade route in automobiles in case anyone needed medical attention.
The march headed south down Fifth Avenue from 57th to 23rd Street on what was one of the hottest days in 25 years, with a line of mounted police officers leading the way.
Here are some of the scenes that Lester A. Walton described in the New York Age from August 2, 1917:
At Fifth Avenue and Forty-sixth Street I saw two well-dressed white women attentively listening to a young colored man explain why the parade was being held; at Forty-third Street I saw a white and colored man standing side by side heartily applauding banners bearing inscriptions demanding a square deal; … at the famous Union League Club, which gave Lincoln and the anti-slavery movement strong support, and which is one of the most American of American institutions, I saw gray-haired aristocrats express sympathy for the marchers by frequent outbursts of applause; at the Waldorf-Astoria and other famous hostelries I saw elegantly costumed women and well-dressed men look on approvingly from windows, and all along Fifth Avenue I observed that true Americans stood with uncovered heads and paid respects to Old Glory whether it was carried by black hands or white hands.
Learn more about the Silent Parade from the Bowery Boys.