One of the founders of New York City’s more than 50-year-old African American Day Parade – Abraham “Abe” L. Snyder – has died, the parade organization and his family announced. He was 86.
In a turbulent 1968, Snyder and a dozen individuals under two community groups – Afro-American Day and United Federation of Black Community Organizations – founded the parade organization with an eye toward lifting the African American community. The first parade stepped off in Harlem the following year.
The retired social worker also served as chairman emeritus of the event. Snyder’s passing was first reported by the New York Amsterdam News.
“He not only was one of the founder’s of AADP, he made sure to maintain the integrity, and pride of AADP,” parade organizers said in a statement released on their Facebook and Instagram. “He was a pillar to the community and will truly be missed.”
Untold thousands of onlookers converge on Harlem every third Sunday of September to watch the procession of marching bands, drill teams, Black fraternities and sororities, and other community groups waving red, black and green Pan-African flags.
A range of barrier-breaking Black politicians, activists, and cultural icons typically join the procession, including the civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the nation’s first Black female congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm.
This is not something he was getting paid for. That is a passion. That is a drive. And that is something that is uplifting to see. That’s what the community saw in my grandfather. That’s what we all saw for years is that passion.
Last year, the 53rd parade took place in person after a two-year virtual run during the coronavirus pandemic. Some 60,000 revelers attended, said Jasmine Robinson, the parade’s administrative coordinator and Snyder’s granddaughter.
“I’ve seen his passion. I’ve seen him spend every dime on his paycheck trying to pay for permits, paying for whatever had to be paid for,” Robinson said. “I’ve seen him come in 11 o’clock, tired, and he’s been out there since six o’clock in the morning.”
She added: “This is not something he was getting paid for. That is a passion. That is a drive. And that is something that is uplifting to see. That’s what the community saw in my grandfather. That’s what we all saw for years is that passion.”
In 2012, ahead of the 43rd annual parade, Snyder told the New York Amsterdam News, “The purpose of the parade is to provide an opportunity for Blacks to join together on a special day to highlight our history and salute African people throughout America and the world for their outstanding achievements.”
Synder’s funeral will take place 10 a.m. Feb. 17 at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem, according to his son, David Snyder. A viewing will be held earlier, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The 54th annual African American Day Parade will be held Sept. 17, with kids events and a concert the day before.