Did You Know the NAACP Organized a Silent March for Civil Rights on This Day?

0 Shares
0
0
0
0
0
0
Listen to this story

This Day In History: July 28th

Protests are typically characterized by marching and chanting taking place, but in 1917 the NAACP introduced a “Silent March” which witnessed thousands of people of color coming together in solidarity. On July 28, 1917, the protesters took to the streets of midtown Manhattan (in silence) for what is considered to be one of the first mass civil rights protests in American history.

Accompanied only by the sound of drums, a group of between 8,000 and 10,000 African American men, women and children started their march down Fifth Avenue. The concept was brought to life by James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B Du Bois and the NAACP after a wave of lynching and violence against the Black community. Tragedies such as the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois were a major push behind the protest. The riot left dozens of Black residents dead and more than 5000 residents were left homeless. 

Johnson worked with fellow activists to plan protest strategies. The group decided that only members of the Black community would be able to participate despite the NAACP having a substantial amount of white members. Logistically, the parade went from Fifth Avenue to 57th Street and Madison Square. Children were at the front of the protest in white, followed by women (who were also in white) and ended with men in dark suits.

When reflecting on the movement Weldon stated, “the streets of New York have witnessed many strange sites, but I judge, never one stranger than this.” He went on to add that “among the watchers were those with tears in their eyes.” 

As the group marched, they carried signs and organizers used Black Boy Scouts to hand out flyers to onlookers. The protest also sought to get President Woodrow Wilson’s attention, after he campaigned on a pro-civil rights platform but failed to deliver on his promises. 

The silent march wowed onlookers and was even referred to as “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed” since there were no reports of violence or arrests. Despite making a statement on the streets of New York, attacks on the Black community continued on, which further highlighted the need for change. 

You May Also Like