Annie Malone Children & Family Service Center | St. Louis Public Radio

Annie Malone Children & Family Service Center

Riverview Gardens High School Marching Band saxophone members play sweet tunes during the 109th Annie Malone May Day parade.  May 20, 2019
Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

For over a century, the Annie Malone Children and Family Services agency has brought thousands of community members together in the country’s second-largest African American parade: the Annie Malone May Day Parade.

Last Sunday’s procession marked its 109th celebration in downtown St. Louis. Parade viewers saw marching bands, local business owners on floats and peppy cheerleaders throughout Market Street near Union Station.

For the agency, the bash is a yearly celebration to let the public know they are still in the city and willing to serve the needs of a growing community. In recent years, the nonprofit has experienced a drastic change in the type of care families in the area need, said Patricia Washington, the agency’s vice president of development and external affairs.

The University City High School Marching Band performs during last year's May Day parade.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

High-steppers, marching bands and elaborate floats are always crowd pleasers at the Annie Malone Children and Family Services Annie Malone May Day Parade.

But Sunday’s parade is not just entertainment; it is the agency’s largest fundraiser.

Though the parade route moved in 2005 from the historic Ville neighborhood to downtown St. Louis, Sara Lahman, CEO at Annie Malone, said the parade is what is keeping the agency alive.

Annie Malone Children's Organization will celebrate 125 years of service

Dec 19, 2012
Marquita Farland and her sons (from left) Leondre Clark, 18, and Leondis Clark, 14.
Virginia Gilbert | For the St. Louis Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: One hundred and twenty five years ago Sarah Newton Cohron and other African-American teachers in the local segregated schools started a campaign to establish the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home.

“We should by all means look into conditions of the Colored orphans of the city,” said Julia Casey, according to the Feb. 23, 1887, minutes of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. “Do, ladies, take some action. … We have left it to others long enough.”