2017 2017: UMassD students experience the heart of Black culture

Students at African American Day Parade
UMassD students attend the 48th Annual African American Day Parade in Harlem, NY.
2017 2017: UMassD students experience the heart of Black culture
UMassD students experience the heart of Black culture

In celebration of Black history, legacy, and culture, UMassD students intersect with a crowd of thousands of participants and viewers during the African American Day Parade – one of the country’s most distinguished national processions.

On Sunday, September 17, 41 UMassD students along with six chaperones embarked on a day trip to experience one of the nation’s oldest and most prominent representations of modern African American life and pride in the city that has earned its reputation for being the “Black capitol of America.”

Harlem, New York is home to the renaissance that took place in the city during the 1920s when writer Langston Hughes, songstress like Billie Holiday, and composer Duke Ellington reflected the quality of black life in their art, and politicians such as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and activists like Malcolm X gave rise to a new way of thinking and coping in a challenging climate.

While such icons have passed on, their legacy continues, in part due to the African American Day Parade (AADP), which takes place every third Sunday during the month of September on the streets of Harlem. Now in its 48th year, the AADP was formed to promote unity, dignity and pride amongst African Americans and to celebrate culture, heritage and legacy. More than 200 organizations from more than a dozen states and several countries throughout the diaspora stroll, dance, march, and cruise down Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard to demonstrate success throughout the Black community.

LaSella Hall at AADP
Frederick Douglass Unity House Director Nicole Williams and Associate Director LaSella Hall serve as chaperones during the historic African American Day Parade in Harlem, NY.

“The purpose of the trip was to educate, inform, and celebrate achievement and excellence,” said LaSella Hall, Associate Director of the Frederick Douglass Unity House.

According to the AADP website, “The African American Day Parade is the most renowned African American parade in the country, with the largest cross-section of participants, including community and political leaders, community-based and religious organizations, civil servants, celebrities, fraternities, and sororities, marching bands, dance ensembles and many more, with a viewing of over 900,000 attendees along the parade route.”

Student talking to media at AADP
UMassD student Charlens Beneche chats with a media rep during the parade.

“Our primary goal was to expose UMass Dartmouth students to the historical nature of Harlem and the importance Harlem has played, and continues to play, in addressing Black pride and enriching Black livelihood in the United States,” said Hall. “Most importantly, the trip looked to inspire UMass Dartmouth students to celebrate their own successes while valuing the achievements of contemporary and legendary Black American frontrunners.”

"I gained a newfound sense of community from the trip to Harlem, it was truly  beautiful thing to see so many small communities from all across the country come together as one for one day," said Black Student Union President & Treasurer Danielle Tucker '18 who is studying at the Charlton College of Business. "The thousands of children in attendance so immersed in Black culture made me very hopeful for the future."

The trip was sponsored by the Black History 4 Seasons Council, Black Student Union, Frederick Douglass Unity House, and NAACP UMass Dartmouth Chapter.