Photo via: Underwood Archives/ Getty Images
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Silent Protest Parade, where almost 10,000 African Americans came together to silently but powerfully march down New York’s Fifth Avenue to Madison Square to protest lynching and other racial violence against Blacks. To honor the centennial of what came to be known as the first mass demonstration by African Americans of its kind, Google’s homepage features a new doodle that depicts the historic protest.
— NAACP (@NAACP) July 28, 2017advertisement
The demonstration was organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B Du Bois. It was a direct response to the East St. Louis Riots of 1917, in which over 200 Black people were killed and thousands of Black residents were displaced by white mobs.
According to Google, the massive protest that ensued in New York City “demanded that President Woodrow Wilson take the legislative action to protect African Americans that he had touched on during his presidential campaign.”
Photo via: Bettman/ Getty Images
As protesters took to the streets of New York City to fight for their rights, women and children wore white to represent innocence, while the men marched in dark colored suits to represent mourning and strength.
They also carried signs that included bold phrases such as: “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Your Hands Are Full of Blood”, “Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?”, and one directly calling out the then president, “Mr. President, why not make America safe for democracy”.
While there is still much work to be done, the Silent Protest Parade set the stage and became the inspiration for civil rights marches to follow.