Chicago Defender Charities
Bud Billiken ® Parade And Picnic ©
The Chicago Defender was founded by Robert Sengstacke Abbott on May 5, 1905. His plan was to use this newspaper to address African American issues. In 1921, Mr. Abbott started the Chicago Defender Jr., a section for children in the newspaper. It was edited by the young Robert Watkins, who was known as Bud Billiken ®, and included an application to the Bud Billiken ® Club, named after the Billiken, the guardian angel of little children according to Chinese legend. Working under Mr. Abbott, David Kellum was a key member of the Bud Billiken ® team and was often called Mr. Bud Billiken ®.
In 1929, Mr. Abbott expanded the Bud Billiken ® concept to include a parade. Its purpose was to provide underprivileged youth with the chance to be in the limelight. Hundreds of thousands have lined the parade route with millions viewing festivities on WGN-TV Channel 9 and ABC-TV Channel 7. Today, the parade features dozens of bands, drill teams, marching units, floats and more.
The Bud Billiken ® Parade is the second largest parade in the United States. It has grown into an institution with participation from across generations and across the country. The parade takes place every second Saturday in August. This year marks the 83rd anniversary of this event and is scheduled for August 11, 2012 at 10:00 AM. The parade proceeds south on King Dr. from Oakwood Blvd. to 51st St. and continues on Ellsworth Dr. thru Washington Park to 55th St. where it disbands. Picnics and other events continue in the park throughout the day. The parade will be broadcast live on WCIU-TV Channel 26 and ABC-TV Channel 7.
Many celebrities have appeared in the Bud Billiken ® Parade. From the past, the parade has seen Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Bozo the Clown, Jack Brickhouse, Roy Rogers, Lena Horne and former President Harry S. Truman. In recent years, the parade has enjoyed the company of Senator Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, L.L. Cool J, Spike Lee, Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas, Donny Osmond, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry and more.
The parade is produced by the Chicago Defender Charities. The monumental task of producing the parade falls into the capable hands of Retired U.S. Army Col. Eugene F. Scott, President of the Chicago Defender Charities, who says "I have been a part of the Bud Billiken ® Parade since my youth and take great pride in my role as parade chairman. We continue to operate under the dictate of Mr. Robert Abbott - Take care of the people and the people will take care of you - and shall for many years to come."
Past parades have been produced under leadership of the late John H. Sengstacke, former Charities President and Chicago Defender Publisher, the late Dr. Marjorie Stewart Joyner, former Charities President, and the late Frederick D. Sengstacke, former Charities President and Chicago Defender Publisher.