On a pleasant Sunday last fall, 150 black groups marched up Seventh Avenue from 111th Street in New York City’s first Afro-American Day parade. Miss Black America and Adam Clayton Powell were on hand, as were a marching band from a Southern college and about 35 Black Panthers. The occasion was reminiscent of the parades Marcus Garvey led almost half a century ago, though it lacked the extravagant costumes designating the orders of African nobility which Garvey created, and little reference was made to going back to Africa. The Afro-American Day parade was more an expression of racial pride here and now.
To what degree does such a parade reflect the social and political realities of Harlem or any other black ghetto? Was it merely a parade bringing together for the purpose of pageantry individuals who, in their everyday experiences, have little in common, or was it symbolic of the unifying force of race in the lives of black Americans? The question is relevant, for during...
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