Sunny skies and warm weather made way for the 41st annual African-American Day Parade on Sunday. Thousands of revelers lined Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, from 111th Street to 136th Street, in what organizers said was one of the largest parades.
Several organizations from around the city trekked the parade route, along with groups from 14 states including Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. More than 300 marching bands, drill teams, labor unions and community organizations pleased parade goers as red, black and green flags waved in the light breeze.
The historically Black Cheney University Marching Band from Pennsylvania led the parade.
Several politicians who served as grand marshals were seen on the parade route, including Gov. David Paterson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, State Sen. Bill Perkins, Assemblyman Keith Wright and City Councilwoman Inez Dickens. Fresh from reelection, Rep. Charlie Rangel passed by in a car, waving to his constituents alongside former Mayor David Dinkins.
While primaries are over, several politicians looking for votes during the upcoming November general elections were out in full force, including Independent Party candidate for the 15th Congressional District Craig Schley and gubernatorial candidate Charles Barron, who was accompanied by a large crowd of supporters of the newly formed Freedom Party.
The theme for this year’s parade was “Working for Unity, Justice and Economic Power.” Parade founder and chairman Abe Snyder said the theme encourages awareness in the Black community.
“We need to be united and work together,” he said. “Every single organization that you could name is at this parade and every year we don’t ask for a registration fee.”
Keeping in mind the theme, Snyder added that he wants the youth to take away inspiration and encouragement from this year’s parade and vowed to keep the parade going for generations to come.
He said, “The turnout is the largest we’ve ever had, no question. That’s why I’m keeping it going. I want the young people to observe and see that when you go to college, you can strive for whatever you want to do.”
The African-American Day Parade was established in 1968. Past grand marshals have included Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Shirley Chisholm and Johnnie Cochran.