The Decline of The African-American Day Parade?

Good morning everyone. For those who may not know, the African-American Day Parade is today. The parade is always the third Sunday in September, and has been an event since 1968. In talking with people a few days before, some have the view that the parade is not what it could be. As a Harlem resident, I have noticed a shrinking of the parade route, and a reduction in the time and size of the crowd over the years. While there are numerous reasons that this is the case, I want to break it down into what factors play into it.

Over the years, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities have steadily decreased their presence in the parade. I remember even about 15 years ago the Black college contingent being fairly large. Now, as far as other representations, such as businesses or politicians outside of election years are definitely reduced.Harlem Week, in contrast has expanded, is sponsored well, and people come from all around the city to attend its events. Harlem week has grown to the point where it is most of August, and might as well be called Harlem month. Meanwhile, this parade is a local, Harlem event. It’s not televised, or even covered in a major way by Black media. The most you may get is a page of pictures in Harlem papers. ¬†In the conversations that I had, the question was how to bring the prominence of the parade back. How can we show the breadth and depth of African-American culture in the parade? Does the reduction of New York City’s Black population play a role in the decline of the parade? What role has gentrification in ¬†Harlem played in all of this?

I especially want to hear from Harlem residents on this post. Will you be there today? If you don’t attend the parade, why is that? What is it missing? Let’s talk about it. Peace.



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  1. Why not move the parade to the middle of Harlem week. Once Harlem week is over, most people aren’t paying attention anymore. The parade comes as an afterthought.

  2. I was originally going to the breakfast as well as the parade and the duo was suppose to walk in the parade but the weather, homework and the fact that its my anniversary are the reasons why I am not going this year

  3. I think if the parade was made an extension of Harlem Week it would be better attended and the diversity of participants would be there. Also, it would probably spur more sponsorship and politico participation. Keeping it as the “last parade of the season” is definitely having an adverse effect on turnout. Additionally, there should be better marketing efforts made such as visiting the HBC, re-establishing the football game (with the new Barclay Ctr or Revamped Yankee Stadium) would go a long way. Also, creating a committee whereby the community is included to have input. Just my opinion….

  4. I agree with some of the post that the African Day Parade should be an extension of Harlem Week, the middle of September folks are getting their children back into a route for school and the college kids are off to college again. When I moved to Harlem in 1993 it was a big event to attend the African Day Parade, you would get your children up super early to get a good spot, now you don’t have to do that because the numbers over the years have dropped. I think also a few years ago there were issue around vendors, gangs and also people drinking alcohol during the day long event, this has stopped a lot of families from coming out to the event. I haven’t gone to the parade in a number of years now, because of those issues around safety etc. I would like to see it brought back to what it was when I first moved to Harlem, also I would like to see the local business owners be a part of the parade instead of just bands, politicians. Bring back the Black Colleges and Universities. The organizers should have a theme (don’t even know if they have) around something positive i.e. Education have the Harlem School Districts have floats with school bands, girl and boys scouts, drums and bugle, dance troops etc.

  5. There is an overabundance of drinking, illegal activity, and fights during every St. Patrick’s Day parade, in every city I’ve ever lived. Yet that doesn’t stop folks from going, nor does it really make the news in any big way. Black folks don’t have a monopoly on bad behavior, and we need to stop perpetuating that myth.

  6. I think more professional groups show be included. What about including organizations that impact the community. Does it have to be all black? Can it have multi -cultural participates. Also the date of the parade should be changed, and maybe location. More creative floats or creativity.

  7. Good morning Neecy. While I do welcome your suggestions for including more professional and community groups, I have to disagree with you about the multi-cultural aspect. It is called the African-American Day Parade. The point is to celebrate this particular heritage.Changing the location of the parade takes away from its focus. It should stay in Harlem. Thank you for your commentary.

  8. When I moved to Harlem in 1998 it was a big event but then people from outside of Harlem would start fights n ppl were getting killed. That why it reduce and I have attend the Breakfast and I March last year and the year before.
    We new more Africans to get involved to promote Unity in the community.

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