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,” according to their website.
This year, 40 UMassD students from across various disciplines, including crime and justice, art, engineering, and business attended the one-day event that took place in Harlem, NY last month. “The trip promotes cultural competency, creates lifelong learners that contribute to their communities in a broader sense, and provides affirmation on their identity and culture that UMassD can be proud of,” said LaSella Hall, Associate Director, Frederick Douglass Unity House.
Attendees included local participants, politicians, various members of area police departments, unions, and others. “Students, as well as alums and members of the Harlem community who joined us in New York, really seemed tuned into this year’s parade, which had a political focus,” Hall said. “There was a lot of energy, liveliness, and hope in atmosphere for change. And I think students felt a sense of pride and belonging in seeing different cultures represented in Harlem throughout the African Diaspora.”
Hall said the purpose of the trip was to educate, inform, and celebrate achievement and excellence. “Going to the African American Day Parade was a great experience,” said student MarKaveus Barnes. “I thoroughly enjoyed being around African American culture and seeing all of the black-run organizations and businesses in the parade. We can do anything we set our mind to.” Student Amy Boaten said the parade was important to her because she was able to see how her African American counterparts celebrate culture. “I am so grateful that I was able to go because it really is a wonderful experience,” said Amy.
The Black History 4 Seasons Council, Black Student Union, Frederick Douglass Unity House, and the Student Government Association sponsored the trip. Hall, along with Stacy Cowart of Housing & Residential Education, Peggy Dias and Diane Gomes of CITS, served as logistics managers.