Nicknamed “The Bud,” the parade has been a back-to-school celebration and showcase for Chicago’s talented young people since 1929. For four generations, the Sengstacke family has organized what it says is the largest African American parade in the United States and the second largest parade in the United States after the Rose Parade.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators and generations of families will gather along the two-mile route in Bronzeville Saturday to cheer on a variety of performers — bands, dance and drill teams, tumblers and cheerleaders — and watch honorary grand marshals and celebrities ride in style aboard floats and classic cars. And thousands of school supplies and other amenities will be handed out in Washington Park following the parade.
- Time and date: 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 13.
- Location: Bronzeville.
- Route: The parade begins at the intersection of East Pershing Road (39th Street) and South King Drive and marches south to Washington Park.
- Festival: As in previous years, a family-friendly fair called will take place after the parade in Washington Park and remain open until 4 p.m.
Parking: Spaces are limited. Carpooling or public transportation is advised.
Chicago Transit Authority: The Green Line is your best bet; exit at the 43rd Street, 47th Street or 51st Street stops and walk east toward the route. If you’re taking the Red Line, exit at the 47th Street stop. Take the No. 47 bus east and get off at Prairie Avenue; the parade is two blocks east. Details about extra bus and rail service are available on the CTA website.
Arrive early to find a good spot along the 2-mile parade route. Treats, school supplies and giveaways will be available in Washington Park following the parade.
- Grand marshal: Jeremih, R&B singer
- Honorary grand marshals: Brett Hart, president of United Airlines; Gen. Rodney Boyd, commander of the Illinois Army National Guard; Cheryl Green, president of Governors State University; Dorri McWhorter, president and CEO YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago; Sanja Rickette Stinson, founder and CEO of Matthew House; Mark Edmond, Jamuel Lewis and Charles Alexander, founders of Black Bread Co.
The Chicago Defender was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott.
In 1924, Abbott held a picnic for five of his publication’s newsboys.
The first parade was held Aug. 11, 1929, when Abbott wanted to thank the children who hawked his newspaper on street corners. He could think of no better way than to give them the things they loved: ice cream, hot dogs and a day outdoors.
In 1921, Abbott started Defender Junior, a page of his weekly paper devoted to children. It grew to include a club, drawing children across the U.S. and Africa and serving as an alternative to the Boy Scouts in response to the segregation at the time.
Bud Billiken, the page’s fictional editor/mascot described as the guardian and protector of children, was invented by Abbott and the Defender’s executive editor, Lucius Harper. Depending on which authority you ask, the two either found the word “billiken” in a dictionary, or Harper had a carving of one on his desk.
Side note: Good-luck figurines called billikens were a popular culture craze in the early 1900s. Florence Pretz, a Kansas City art teacher, created the tubby little good-luck creature — a cross between a Kewpie doll and a Buddha figure — and for a while the impish-looking “god of things as they ought to be” was all the rage. The Billiken Company of Chicago manufactured dolls, banks, figurines and other souvenirs in his likeness.
Many notable people have participated in the parade since its inception. Here are a few:
- Politicians and civic leaders: Both Mayors Daley; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Barack Obama, as both a U.S. senator and president; President Harry Truman; and Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington.
- Entertainers: James Brown, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Chaka Khan, Spike Lee, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Oprah Winfrey and Chance the Rapper.
- Athletes: Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Candace Parker, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Floyd Patterson.
Sources: Chicago Defender Charities; Tribune archives and photos
Source by www.chicagotribune.com