History of the 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. It was 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 live TV. 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. 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. It is broadcast live on ABC7 Chicago with picnics and other events in the park throughout the day.