Chairman Bernard has been the head of this committee for the past twenty-one years. The parade received its beginning in 1966, when heritage enthusiasts conceived the concept, and called it the Crispus Attucks Parade, but it was discontinued in 1976. It was revived in 1979 as the Black Heritage Day Parade, which continued until 1993. Today, Newark can boast of hosting the largest Black Cultural Celebration in New Jersey.For the past decade, the parade has grown every year and Bernard contributes this growth to a dedicated group of volunteers, corporate sponsorship and the grace of God. “As spiritual people, our deep-rooted faith has sustained the parade through those dark days. The Committee doesn’t want to dwell on any negative aspects of years gone-by, but instead, their focus is on where they are now and where they are going.
The generosity of our many corporate sponsors has enabled the parade to feature and produce high caliber events and activities.”The AAHPC is “Building a Tradition” which is rooted in the ancestry of our forefathers. Their goal is to bring culturally enriched events into Newark that will benefit, educate, as well as entertain, everyone. The statewide parade is an opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy a festive event that will delight the entire family. This year the parade will have more participants, spectators and tourists than ever before. The parade is a real family event, guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face, from the baby to the grandparent. It is a family activity that must be preserved and strengthened as a wholesome and unifying activity.
Every year, the parade consists of marching bands, floats, politicians, step groups, giant balloons, horsemen, exotic animals, community groups and law enforcement agencies, military contingent from across the state and nation. It receives support from many entities, and the Committee is grateful for all of their contributors.
Through the continuous improvement of our festivities and events, the Parade calendar now includes events during the year to raise operating capital and honor those individuals who are making human development contributions and performing positively activities in our community. The parade is committed to educating our community and has a special attraction of historical balloons celebrating our ancestors. As in past years, the Committee has held various programs celebrating Black History Month. They also host annual events such as the Interfaith Spiritual Breakfast, the Community Unity Carnival in Irvington, NJ, A spiritual concert, Leadership Brunch, Heritage Awards Gala, Urban Golf Classic, and Concerts at Union County Performing Arts Center.
Every year, the Memorial Day weekend of events starts on Friday, with the opening of the African American Heritage Cultural Festival in Weequahic Park, and runs until Monday evening. Each year the special signature attraction is skydivers who parachute directly in front of the reviewing stand on Broad Street.
The holiday weekend begins on Friday evening in Weequahic Park with many free family oriented attractions. Also, there are the carnival, vendors, games and pony rides. As always, there will be numerous booths featuring mouth watering ‘soul food.’ Saturday’s events feature local artists and well-known performers. On Sunday, there are pre-parade activities and the first of over one hundred contingents, step off beginning the parade. After the parade, the festival at Weequahic Park opens with a spiritual concert on the main stage. The Heritage Festival will end on Memorial Day Monday.
During the past 20 years, the AAHPC has been involved in more than only a parade. The activities and events sponsored by this leadership committee are commendable. These volunteers work very hard and many long hours with no pay and barely a thank you. Many have to bring their children and/or grandchildren with them to meetings or events. The people associated with these events make the sacrifices and commitment to serve their community any way they can. It is because of their dedication that the parade has sustained and flourished. Through it all, the people connected with AAHPC have grown individually and as a group. It is through the Committee’s work, that there has been the successful establishment of a sense of pride, unity and mutual cooperation. With the help of God the AAHPC, Inc. will move forward and continue to “Build on Our Tradition”.