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Harlem’s African American Day Parade turns 50 — marking a half-century of unity on display


The African American Day Parade is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, marking a half-century as a vibrant lasting symbol of black unity and achievement.

The highly anticipated procession on Sunday runs along Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. from W. 111th to W. 136th Sts. in Harlem from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.. It will feature celebrities, religious groups, labor unions, community, sororities and fraternities, marching bands and dancers. Participants are coming “from over 12 states and many countries.”

“This is our platform to reclaim our identity,” exclaims AADP Chairman Yusuf Hasan. “I want people to understand that being African-American is an experience and a strength as opposed to a skin color and a struggle. AADP has been a platform to represent us in a positive way, and we’re excited to do this for a 50th year!”

Opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and 111th St., there will be pre-parade activities at noon at the 125th St. reviewing stand.

Performances include Tony Award and Grammy-winning actress/singer Melba Moore, who will sing the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the high-energy Orange Crush Roaring Lions Marching Band from Lincoln University, one of the two historically black colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

On the route, the parade theme, “Integrity and Transparency Equals Good Government,” will be represented by those who have made “key contributions to furthering the dignity, determination and excellence of the African American community through politics and government.”

Pioneering political figures Mayor David Dinkins, New York’s first African-American mayor; former Congressman Charles Rangel; and Leah Daughtry, two-time CEO of the Democratic National Convention; and others have been named grand marshals.

Civil Court Judges Machelle Sweeting and William Franc Perry III also have marshal status for the parade.

The AADP, which has “Power Through Unity” as its organizational theme, was founded in 1968 by two community groups — the Afro-American Day and the United Federation of Black Community Organizations. The first parade was held a year later.

Harlem community leaders Livingston Wingate, Conrad Peters, Jacqueline Peterson, Abdel Krim, Cenie Williams, Ennis Francis, Joseph Steele, Piankhi Akinbaloye, Bernice Bolar, Adeyemi Oyeilumi, Lloyd Mayo, Leonard Davis, and Abe Snyder — the last living founding member— organized the inaugural 1969 procession.

The 1960s, the decade that spawned the Harlem parade was marked by African-American unity and progress in the midst of major social upheavals — included the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963; passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther king Jr. in 1968 and subsequent riots in Harlem and across the nation; well as the clenched-fist Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

For information, visit and follow the parade organization on social