1917 July 28

NAACP Leads Silent March Down Fifth Avenue to Protest Racist Violence


The NAACP organized a march in New York City to protest the East St. Louis race riot that had erupted on July 2, 1917. On this day, over 10,000 participants dressed in white marched silently down Fifth Avenue in New York City. The East St. Louis was the worst urban race riot to that time, and was eclipsed in seriousness two years later by the Chicago race riot that began on July 27, 1919.

Among those in the front row, leading the march, were W.E.B. Dubois, the great African American intellectual and civil rights leader, and James Weldon Johnson, field secretary of the NAACP at the time, and the author of the African American anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Ninety-three years later, on June 17, 2012, the NAACP organized silent marches across the country to protest police stop-and-frisk practices directed at African-Americans. A year later, on August 12, 2013, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the New York City Police Department’s practice of stop-and-frisks to be unconstitutional.

Read: Eliott Rudwick, Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917 (1964)

See a photograph of the march at the Library of Congresshttp://www.loc.gov/exhibits/naacp/founding-and-early-years.html

Learn more about the East St. Louis Race Riot: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/east-st-louis-race-riot-july-2-1917

Read: Gilbert Jones, Freedom’s Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle Against Racism in America, 1909–1969 (2012)

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