Every now and again, Google shares a gem in the form of a doodle on its home page, recognizing dates that have some relevance to history, culture—anything like that. Today’s doodle marks the 100-year anniversary of the iconic Silent Protest Parade where some 10,000 African Americans marched in total silence to protest lynchings and other anti-black violence in America.
Click the doodle, and Google will take you to search results featuring articles and pages about the march. Or, if you click the hyperlink in the small text under the search bar, which reads, “100 years after the Silent Parade, explore America’s history of racial injustice,” Google will redirect you to a landing page on the Equal Justice Initiative’s site that explores how the effects of “racial terror lynchings” are still felt today.
Back in July 28, 1917, the protest led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—including leaders like James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. Du Bois—drew thousands of African Americans to march from New York City’s Fifth Avenue to Madison Square.
The usual chanting and singing that tend to accompany this sort of protest in the present day was absent. Instead, the protesters carried banners that held slogans such as “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Your Hands are Full of Blood” and “Mothers, Do Lynchers Go to Heaven?”
Children and women marched in front wearing all white to represent innocence, while the men marched toward the back in dark suits to symbolize dignity and the determination to stand up for their rights, the Miami Herald notes.
The protest came as a response to the recent lynchings of African Americans, which had grown more and more gruesome in the year leading up to the march. the Herald notes that in May 1916, a mob of 10,000 white Texans in Waco lynched a black farmer, Jesse Washington, who was accused and convicted of raping the wife of his employer. Almost exactly a year later, on May 22, 1917, a black woodcutter, Ell Persons, died after being attacked by over 5,000 white people in Memphis, Tenn., for allegedly raping a white girl.
And then there was the horror of July 2, 1917, when tensions between white and black workers in East St. Louis, Ill., reached a boiling point. For 24 hours, white mobs attacked anyone with dark skin, stabbing, shooting and lynching them—men, women and children alike. Homes were burned, and occupants were gunned down if they attempted to run. It is believed that the death toll was as high as 200.
The 6,000 surviving black residents became refugees in their own country, the Herald notes.
The Silent Parade was the deafening—though silent—voices of the people, joined together in what became one of the first mass demonstrations by black Americans.
Read more at the Miami Herald.