Good morning everyone. For those who may not know, the African-American Day Parade is today. The parade is always the third Sunday in September, and has been an event since 1968. In talking with people a few days before, some have the view that the parade is not what it could be. As a Harlem resident, I have noticed a shrinking of the parade route, and a reduction in the time and size of the crowd over the years. While there are numerous reasons that this is the case, I want to break it down into what factors play into it.
Over the years, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities have steadily decreased their presence in the parade. I remember even about 15 years ago the Black college contingent being fairly large. Now, as far as other representations, such as businesses or politicians outside of election years are definitely reduced.Harlem Week, in contrast has expanded, is sponsored well, and people come from all around the city to attend its events. Harlem week has grown to the point where it is most of August, and might as well be called Harlem month. Meanwhile, this parade is a local, Harlem event. It’s not televised, or even covered in a major way by Black media. The most you may get is a page of pictures in Harlem papers. In the conversations that I had, the question was how to bring the prominence of the parade back. How can we show the breadth and depth of African-American culture in the parade? Does the reduction of New York City’s Black population play a role in the decline of the parade? What role has gentrification in Harlem played in all of this?
I especially want to hear from Harlem residents on this post. Will you be there today? If you don’t attend the parade, why is that? What is it missing? Let’s talk about it. Peace.