Crite's longstanding interest in chronicling the urban scene is exemplified in Parade on Hammond Street, which depicts a parade the artist witnessed near his residence in the Roxbury section of Boston. Rather than depicting stereotypical images of African Americans, scenes of Southern sharecroppers, or Harlem jazz musicians, Crite was interested in portraying ordinary African-Americans, engaged in daily activities. Painted in predominantly warm colors, this urban genre scene focuses on an African-American neighborhood where residents have gathered to watch a Sunday parade. It is characteristic of Crite's early work in its documentary emphasis, fine detail, and celebratory tone.
Crite has painted the beginning of a procession of musicians, with a bandleader marching out in front wearing a high plumed hat and holding a baton. The performers wear blue and white uniforms and march before an appreciative and well-dressed audience. Women wear long dresses with elegant hats, and men wear suits. In this painting, Crite has created a feeling of communal unity and familial closeness as children stand close to their protective mothers and fathers. Men and women converse with one another, enjoying the fresh air and the opportunity for socializing. Entranced by the music and rhythmic movement of the marchers, children hover near the curb or lean out of windows. There is a sense that the entire community has gathered for this event, as people stand shoulder to shoulder along the sidewalk, and onlookers peer out from nearly every window in the background buildings. The artist recalled that this parade was the highlight of the Elks’ (a fraternal order) district convention, held in his neighborhood regularly, a festive occasion for which everyone dressed in their “Sunday best.”
The artist’s interest in detail shows not only in the appearance of the figures but also in the careful execution of the buildings. The figures in Parade on Hammond Street are individualized, as Crite has portrayed various skin tones, body types, and hairstyles of the period. Although each person is distinct, Crite creates pattern through the repetition of people lining the sidewalks. Repetition is also seen in the bricks, fire escapes, and rectangular windows of the row houses. Crite painstakingly reconstructed the settings of his works to ground them in reality and to make the images accessible to the viewer. The neighborhood shown here was dramatically altered by urban renewal, so his meticulous depiction of the site documents the place as well as the event.
Varied brushwork and rich color animate the surface of the painting. Even though he was aware of modernism, Crite chose a representational style because it was natural to him and appropriate to his wish to communicate people’s stories and experiences.