Marching Harlem Style: The African American Day Parade Draws Big Names, Big Crowds

September 17, 2012  |  

It bills itself as the “Largest Black Parade in America.” Missed it? Well, it just took place in Harlem on September 16th.

The African American Day Parade actually celebrated its 43rd year with an estimated million people lining Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. The parade was launched in 1968, according to its website to “provide an opportunity for African people to join together on a Special Day to highlight our history and salute African people throughout America and the world for their outstanding achievements. The parade promotes unity, dignity and pride.”

The turnout this year was more than expected, say the organizers, who go as far as to say that it was in fact the largest in all of the parade’s 43 years. Perhaps it was this year’s NYC elite–Governor David Paterson, former Mayor David Dinkins, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Vice Chancellor Emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Rep. Charles Rangel, mayoral candidate William Thompson and Lillian Roberts, executive director of DC37—who attracted the attention.

Despite that reported turnout, media coverage of the parade is scant. Furthermore, we were in touch with parade organizers and didn’t get through. After reaching the Harlem Chamber of Commerce for additional info, they only gave us a “no comment.”

Whatever the case, parades are usually big business for a community. Although, the numbers for the African American Day Parade haven’t been released, generally they rake in millions for the vendors and other businesses in the community. The recent West Indian Day Parade was estimated to geneate at least $86 million for the city.

Besides the long list of big names (Doug E. Fresh!), bands and organizations from 12 states attended. And on the Barack Obama website, it encouraged supporters to go to the parade to drive votes.

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