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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Memorandum for NAACP Branches: mottos used in the Negro Silent Protest Parade, 1917. NAACP Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (084.00.00)
Silent protest parade in New York City against the East St. Louis riots, 1917. Copyprint. NAACP Records, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (085.00.00)

Silent Protest

Whites reacted with discrimination and sometimes violence to the increasing numbers of African Americans in northern cities. On July 9, 1917, one of the most violent riots of the twentieth century exploded in East St. Louis, Illinois, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of black homes and businesses and the deaths of at least thirty-nine African Americans. The NAACP organized a "Silent Protest Parade" in New York City to denounce the riot and to appeal for equal rights. This memorandum distributed to participants highlights black contributions to American history and notes that, although African Americans had "fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars; our reward is East St. Louis."