‘The Bud’ celebrates 90 years of South Side, Black culture

By Micha Thurston, Digital/Brand Manager

The Bud Billiken Parade, also referred to as “The Bud,” celebrated its 90th anniversary Saturday. As the largest Black parade in the country, thousands of Chicagoans flocked to South King Drive for this year’s celebration.

The character “Bud the Billiken” was created in 1925 by Robert S. Abbot, who also founded the newspaper the Chicago Defender 20 years prior. “Bud the Billiken” served as the mascot for the “Bud Club,” a social club for Black children.

In 1929, the first Bud Billiken Parade was born—serving as a thank you to the young newsboys who sold The Defender on the street and distributed it throughout the community. Today, the parade continues to celebrate Chicago’s Black youth as a back-to-school celebration.

Since its inception, the parade has seen a wide variety of well-known faces, such as former President Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and The Supremes.

The 2019 parade was marshaled by Chicago native and comedian Lil Rel Howery, who was in the cast of the horror film, “Get Out.” He was joined by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and other local celebrities.