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Silent marchers in New York City protested rising violence nationwide against African-Americans, 1917.

Silent marchers in New York City protested rising violence nationwide against African-Americans, 1917.

Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Silent marchers in New York City protested rising violence nationwide against African-Americans, 1917.

Images of the Era: 1913-1945

Most Americans greeted the 20th century with optimism. The early decades saw economic growth and the expansion of democracy as women gained the vote. But two world wars, the Great Depression, and the nuclear age later tested such confidence.