The History of the Second Largest Parade in the United States
Chicago Dept. of Human Resource float in 1973
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 ®.
The South Shore Drill Team performs during the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic on Saturday
Abbott decided to add the concept of a parade and the first Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic was held August 11, 1929.
The purpose was to provide underpriveled youth with the chance to be in the linelight. The parade route ran from
31st and Michigan Boulevard to Washington Park
. In the mid-30's the city rerouted
the parade to South Parkway
because its Michigan route tied up traffic as it went east into Washington Park. Around 1947, it was rerouted
Michigan due to street repairs on South Parkway. After the street repairs the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic returned
South Parkway and has remained there ever since. South Parkway, now named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, runs
through the African American community on the City's Southside.
ABC NEWS 7
Hundreds of thousands have lined the parade route with millions viewing festivities on live TV. Today, the parade features dozens of bands, drill teams, marching units, floats and more.
Learn more about the organization and the parade on the official website