The Silent Protest of 1917 silent parade of 1917 : The first massive African American protest in American history took place on July 28th, 1917, in New York City. It was a silent parade, in protest of the East St. Louis, Illinois, massacre that happened on July 2nd, 1917; as well as all the violent events that was happening against African Americans around the country. This parade was organized by the NAACP, churchmen and other civil leaders.
The riot in East St. Louis began when white men , angry because African Americans were employed by a factory holding government contracts, went on a rampage. Over $400,000. worth of property was destroyed. At least 40 African American were killed; and men, women and children were beaten, stabbed, hung and burned. Almost 6,000 African American were driven from their homes.
silent parade of 1917 The Silent Protest of 1917
The African American communities were also upset because while black men were sent to combat in World War I, which the President Woodrow Wilson described as necessary to the survival of democracy abroad; these same men was denied their basic rights here in the United States.
Across the country, the black community was tried of the violence targeted towards them and on July 28th, 1917, 8,000 African American mostly from Harlem, marched down Fifth Avenue. They were dressed in their finest clothes and marched to the sound of muffled drums. The children, dressed in white, led the way; followed by the women who were also dressed in white, then the men, dressed in black suites.
Though they marched silently, they carried picket signs that read, “Mother, do lynchers go to heaven?”, “Mr. President, why not make America safe foe democracy?”, “Thou shalt not kill!”, ” We are maligned as lazy and murdered when we work!”; and handed out leaflets.
They marched without saying one word or making a single gesticulation and protested in respectful silence against the reign of unnecessary terror to which the black race was subjected to in the United States.
Encyclopedia of The Harlem Renaissance; Cary D. Wintz, Paul Finkelman