The march was called the Silent Parade (or Silent Protest) in New York City, to protest lynching and anti-black violence. The parade was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riots in May and July 1917, when between 40-250 blacks were killed by white mobs.
The Silent Parade was organized by W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. They hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and promote black causes.
Wilson did not do so and repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination increased during Wilson’s presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York, and the second instance of blacks publicly demonstrating for civil rights.