Harlem shows "Power Through Unity" at The African American Day Parade

On Sunday September 17, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the African-American Day Parade (AADP) in Harlem, NY. It was my first time watching the parade in years, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

I can’t quite put my finger on it but it I felt at though in the past five to seven years the parade lacked a certain luster about it that it didn’t garner the same amount of attention as it did when I was a young child, or when my parents were growing up. The AADP has been around for 48 years and is known as the most renown parade for African Americans in the country.

Last year, all I remember thinking was that the parade was an inconvenience because I couldn’t park my car on 7th Avenue. The acts didn’t seem like they practiced, and the whole event looked as if it was put together the night before. The neighborhood participation was also non-existent. I have been very disappointed in the parade these past few years to say the least.

This year however, I saw a much different scene. Every float they rode by looked enthused to be a part of a great tradition. Dance teams showed their best moves. Black-Greek organizations showed out in full force. And local politicians came out to meet and greet the people. It looked as if everyone in Harlem came out to witness what felt like the re-birth of the African-American Day parade.

It was such a refreshing sight to see when I looked out down 7th Ave. and saw hundreds, if not thousands of Afro-American Nationalism (RBG) Flags waving in the air. There was so much culture present that one could not help but feel energized on an unusual hot September day. 

It is my hope that this momentum will keep going. I want people to clear their schedules to make sure they come to see the parade just like they do with the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. I need all local politicians to be more present in the community in which they serve to fully connect with the people, all the time. Not just when an election is coming up and you think handing me a flyer as I make my way to the 2 train on 116th street in the morning will garner votes. In this climate, it is traditions like the AADP that maintain our culture and showcase our “Power Through Unity.”  


Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator, and founder of Urban X.

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