Tag Archives: african american day parade

Harlem Brings Out the Best For A Day of Celebration

24 Sep
Egyptian Royalty

Egyptian Royalty

The last weekend of one of the hottest summers in the city closed out with a festive celebration of African American culture and contribution in Harlem USA. Billed as the largest Black Parade in the Nation, it certainly lived up to the hype. It’s also becoming one of the longest parades rivaling St. Patrick’s, the Puerto Rican, and West Indian parades. It’s becoming larger with groups coming in from 12 states and more community groups getting involved. One thing was clearly evident in the grand celebration of the 46th annual event…everyone brought their A game to the parade. Starting with the lead marching band from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania as they set the tone for what would be a day of fun, sharing knowledge, activism, music and some great steppers. After parade dignitaries and VIPs made their way to the reviewing stand on 125th St and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., current and former politicians including former Mayor Dinkins and Rep. Charles Rangel drove up the parade route. Mayor de Blasio was well received mostly because of his effort to increase affordable housing and push for income equality…issues that have impacted the African American community deeply. Activists and community groups were in abundance as recent events directed against defenseless African Americans by police has galvanized the community to help bring about change. The Black Lives Matter group had gathered a large presence for this years parade and news of upcoming activist events and protests were let known. Sorority groups displayed posters proclaiming their allegiance with Sandra Bland.  An Islam group sponsored by Majid Malcom Shabbaz had a few floats with large images of iconic figures that gave selflessly in the struggle for freedom and equality. They also had a funk band that played some hot tunes from the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. They got the crowd worked up.

Icons of the Community

Icons of the Community

Marching Cobras Show How It's Done

Marching Cobras Show How It’s Done

Marcher In Training

Marcher In Training

One of the many marching bands to march up the parade route were the newcomers from Milford Mills in Baltimore, Md. They were sharp with their green uniforms and lots of high energy. The first of the many marching units from Baltimore brought their style to the parade. The Christian Warriors thrilled the crowd with their moves. They were just warming things up for some of the larger marching units including the striking local Marching Cobras. One group that made the biggest impression was a large group representing the United Nuwaupian Nation, an ancient Egyptian order based in Brooklyn. They dressed in traditional costume and presented a traditional dance at the reviewing stand. Soon after several marching units from Baltimore tore it up with their high stepping and loud drums. Dream Nation got things moving with their high energy. The Baltimore Entertainers followed up with their own style but not far behind was the sassy Baltimore All-Stars. Near the close of the parade was the Baltimore Go-Getters and that they did with one the more impressive shows for the crowd to really get into. It was a great time for anyone to come up to Harlem and celebrate in grand style.

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Harlem Shakes in Celebration of the African American Parade

16 Sep
Band leader in charge

Band leader in charge

     Parade revelers were lining up on the sun filled Sunday afternoon on Adam Clayton Blvd. waiting to see the start of the largest African American parade in the country. Marching bands and organizations from over 12 states walked past the shadow of the world famous Apollo Theater with pride, dignity and respect for each other.  The 44th annual celebration of African American heritage and culture began differently from previous years as the usual marching band from Cheney University was absent. No worries though as the Camden HS Marching Band made up for it and played loud and proud. Parade organizers and local politicians including Congressman Charles Rangel and former mayoral candidate Bill Thompson waved to the crowd to get things started for a fun filled day.  This year the women’s organizations came out strong to support women owned businesses and  educational organizations supporting higher education. Every year large photos of the heroes of the community are carried as a reminder of the sacrifices that were made long ago to advance the cause of justice and freedom for today.  Soon after came a group calling for a boycott of Florida and justice for the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.

Charles Rangel

Charles Rangel

Heroes

Heroes

Proudly waving the African flag

Proudly waving the African flag

A different take to the parade this year were the Buffalo Soldiers riding in on their stylized cycles. The crowd woke up some  especially when some hit the throttle and made some thunderous noise. Guess it was a nice introduction for what was to follow when the first of several marching bands came down the parade route shaking things up.  The Baltimore Entertainers got things under way with their heavy thumping drum beat. They were warming things up for the Baltimore Go Getters as they showed off their dance moves but wait it keeps getting better.  As the New Baltimore Twilighters were making their way up the parade route one of the dancers spotted Mickey Mouse trying to steal their thunder and hopped over the fence to show him how shake it in Harlem.  A smaller group called The Band had a really high energy show for the crowd. The band that got the most praise from the crowd though had to be the Baltimore Westsiders. They really tore it up. Not to be outdone was the colorful and high energy band of Mass Destruction. Closing out the proud display of high stepping bands were the New Edition. I think the had the best drum corp of all.  As a tradition the parade closed out with black cowboys and their beautiful horses. A nice treat for any city kid from 4 to 94. This parade lived up to the hype. Great job all.

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Hi Stepping It in Harlem

28 Sep

    In the shadow of the legendary Apollo Theater on 125th St., Rachel and I made our way to the second leg of the parade weekend for the 42nd annual African-American Day Parade. The parade is the largest Black Parade in America and celebrates achievement, education, and its many important contributions to American society. This years theme of working for unity, justice and economic empowerment couldn’t have been more timely as the tough economic times has hit the African-American community hardest. The parade route started at 111st St and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and ended at 136th St.  The Blvd. started filling up with revelers close to 1PM at the kickoff. After the Memorial Parade Board float made its way up, the Cheyney University Band from PA., the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher learning,  ushered in a day of marching and stepping and celebration.  Grand Marshalls stopped by the WBLS  radio station area on 125th St. where politicians and group organizers would address the crowd with uplifting and encouraging messages. Rev. Al Sharpton drew the largest attention while NYC comptroller John C. Lui was politicking for what could be a potential mayoral run.

    As the politicians made their remarks, the marchers were stalled and eager to march and show off their organization. One of the most impressive displays were Masjia Malcolm Shabazz holding large pictures of former leaders with pride and a reminder of the history and sacrifice made for the community. Things picked up and the parade flowed better while marchers passed by WBLS radio personality Bob Lee as he announced each group including the NY Police Guardian Association, the Baltimore Westsiders and Local Unions.  Then the high steppers from all parts of the country showed off their moves that made the crowd happy.

   

Kicking things off were the Temple Grand Drill Team from PA marching in precision followed by New Edition Baltimore Marching band adding their fresh style to the parade but not to be outdone by the Baltimore Entertainers. However, a show stealer came from Parks and Recreation group with a toddler girl who showed Bob Lee how she danced. The crowd loved it.

                             

     There was a break from the steppers as groups of marchers with educational and empowerment messages gave out pamphlets and raised banners of injustices. Various Masonic groups and Greek Orders from various colleges and universities marched as a sign of unity and strength. Many groups addressed the crowd to give positive messages to take home. Things picked up again when the Show Stoppers marched up style. A classy marching band was the group from marching band from Brooklyn representing Panama. Saving what could be the best for last were the Baltimore All Star Marchers. They impressed the crowd so much, some young gals were asking how they can join them. Closing the parade were the crowd pleasing Federation of Black Cowboys riding their well-trained horses and allowing children to pet them.

                             

Rachel and I met up towards the end of the parade and agreed this was one of better parades we had been to this year and had to stop by Amy Ruth’s for some authentic Southern style cooking. A fitting way to end a fun day in Harlem, USA.

For additional photos go to the  Photograph links on right under “African-American Parade”

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