#330 The Silent Parade of 1917: Black Unity in a Time of Crisis

"To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of 'silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression' inflicted upon them in this country." -- New York Times, July 29, 1917

EPISODE 330 The Silent Parade of July 28, 1917, was unlike anything ever seen in New York City -- thousands of black men, women and children marching down Fifth Avenue. Today it is considered New York's (and most likely America's) first African-American civil rights march.

The march was organized by the NAACP in direct response to a horrible plague of violence against black Americans in the 1910s, culminating in the East St. Louis Riots, a massacre involving white mobs storming black neighborhoods in sheer racial animus.

There were no chants or rallying cries. The women were dressed all in white, the men in black. Thousands of onlookers had lined the parade route that day out of curiosity, amusement, pride, anger and joy.

How did this unusual protest come to be? How did New Yorkers really react? And why has the Silent Parade gone mostly forgotten for most Americans?

FEATURING: W.E.B. Du Bois, Madam C.J. Walker, James Weldon Johnson, Lillian Wald and more


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