African American Protest Photo, 1917 Silent Protest Parade March Against the East St. Louis Riots

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1917 NYC AARP March in protest of the East St. Louis Riots.

"At the break of summer 1917, racial tension simmered across the nation. In East St. Louis, white residents launched a bloody attack on the rapidly expanding black community. Dozens of black residents were killed and thousands more were left homeless after their neighborhood was burned to ashes.

The NAACP wasted no time in composing a retort and soon issued a call for a Silent Protest Parade. “You must be in line,” the Association commanded.

On July 28, nearly 10,000 black men, women, and children wordlessly paraded down New York’s Fifth Avenue. Silently marching to the beat of a drum, the throngs of protesters clutched picket signs declaring their purpose and demanding justice.

“Make America safe for democracy.”

“We march because we deem it a crime to be silent in the face of such barbaric acts.”

“We march because we want our children to live in a better land.”

Their tactic was silence, but their message resounded: anti-black violence is unjust and un-American.

It was the first protest of its kind in New York, and the second instance of African Americans publically demonstrating for civil rights. "

-- NAACP

 

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