New York City's African American Day Parade is an annual celebration and acknowledgement of black descendants of former African slaves in America. The parade, first held in 1969, takes place every September, normally on the third Sunday of the month. It is held in Harlem, a neighborhood in the northern section of New York's borough of Manhattan. Unity, dignity and pride are the three basic concepts serving as the platform for the parade.
The parade normally travels from 111th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, just north of New York City's famous Central Park, north to 136th Street. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard is the same road as Seventh Avenue, only with a new name once it reemerges on the north side of Central Park.
The African American Day Parade heralds itself as "The Largest Black Parade in America." It was formally conceptualized and established in 1968 by a group of 13 founding members led by co-chairs Livingston Wingate and Conrad S. Peter. Because of its large black population, as well as its earned reputation as the "Black Capital of America," Harlem was selected as the parade site. An independent entity, the parade perseveres each year through the strength of a collective volunteer spirit, as opposed to donations.
Parade Ideals and Participants
The parade draws many individuals seeking to broadcast and celebrate past African American accomplishments while inspiring participants and revelers to future feats. Each year, celebrities, local dignitaries, organizations, community leaders and bands are joined by groups and organizations from cities and states outside of New York.
A journey to see the African American Day Parade is an ideal opportunity to tour the sights of Harlem. Venture to the opposite end of the island from Manhattan's Wall Street and 9/11 memorial construction site, north of the flashing, dream-filled lights of Times Square. Wave goodbye to Central Park's northern border and step across 110th Street. You're now in Harlem, mother of the world-renowned Apollo Theater on West 125th Street, where a young Michael Jackson danced and sang. Harlem is also home to the original Cotton Club, at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue, where entertainers from Lena Horne and Billie Holiday to Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway moved the crowds. On West 118th Street, you'll see Minton's Playhouse, where Miles Davis jammed. You'll need the remainder of the day to absorb the other historical sights, from legendary soul-food spot Sylvia's to the Abyssinian Baptist Church to the districts of Sugar Hill and Hamilton Heights.