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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, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through many banners which they carried, calling attention to “Jim Crowism,” segregation, disenfranchisement, and the riots of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis.—The New York Times, (A Former Newspaper) 29 July 1917
We own 20,ooo farms with 20,000,000 acres of land worth $500,000,000—Sign carried in the Negro Silent Protest Parade, commonly known as the “Silent Parade.”
There was a time when protests by and on behalf of African Americans could be peaceful. On this day in 1917, they took it further with a silent protest parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City. There were no white Marxists there to turn it into a violent riot. There were not even cheers or shouts. Just a silent march with black boy scouts along the parade route handing out flyers to explain their complaints. The protests were against lynchings, especially what had been recent incidents in Waco and Memphis, and terrible riots in St. Louis where scores of African Americans were killed. The St. Louis riots were spurred when African Americans were brought in as strikebreakers against a unionization attempt.
As a risible footnote, some of the signs that the people carried in the parade appealed directly to the President of the United States, who happened to be Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Had he been there, I doubt he would have been moved to do anything other than to call in troops to break up the protest.Published in