ABC 7 Chicago and the Chicago Defender Charities have partnered for decades to present Chicago’s “back to school” summer tradition, The Bud Billiken Parade®. Although the largest African American Parade in the country has been postponed this year, ABC 7 is capturing the spirit with an hour special, BUD BILLIKEN: CELEBRATING 91 YEARS. Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose, and Hosea Sanders, who have been part of ABC 7’s Bud Billiken tradition in the broadcast booth since 2003, will host the special, with Terrell Brown and Karen Jordan also contributing. The special will spotlight greatest moments from past parades, performances by the Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Drill Team, celebrity shout outs including Common, Chance, and Mayor Lightfoot, and dazzling new performances. BUD BILLIKEN: CELEBRATING 91 YEARS will air twice, Saturday, August 8 at 1 PM and Sunday, August 16 at 4 PM and will also be exclusively streamed live on abc7chicago.com and ABC 7’s connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.
ABC 7 President and General Manager, John Idler said, “The rich legacy of the Bud Billiken Parade is a story that needs to be passed on even when faced with the challenges of a pandemic. Together with the Chicago Defender Charities, our ABC 7’s Bud Billiken special celebrates 91 years of a longstanding summer tradition spanning generations and continuing to celebrate the importance of education.”
According to Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO, Chicago Defender Charities, “Even though we will miss the anticipation and excitement that comes when the Bud Billiken Parade marches down the streets of Chicago, we are steadfast in our goal to support education and the performing arts. We are grateful to ABC 7 for making sure that the fun, tradition, and spirit of our beloved parade will be carried on through this hour-long special broadcast.”
The backdrop for BUD BILLIKEN: CELEBRATING 91 YEARS will be at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Englewood, Cheryl Burton’s alma mater, where ‘blast from the past’ photos of Cheryl’s high school days will be a highlight.
Cameras were rolling to catch the fancy footwork of dance teams competing in the “Bringing out the Talent Summer Bling, ” a dance team competition founded by Shkunna McGee Stewart. Shkunna continues the family dance legacy of her mother and grandmother, both of whom led their own dance teams through the years. All three family members share their stories.
A powerful music video to promote racial justice will be debuted.
Also featured is the fascinating history of the Bud Billiken parade. In 1905, Robert Sengstacke Abbott founded the Chicago Defender Newspaper, helping to inspire the great African-American migration from the South to Chicago. In gratitude for those who delivered his newspaper, Robert Sengstacke Abbott started a makeshift parade along with a band that included the legendary Lionel Hampton and Nat King Cole – the Bud Billiken Parade was on its way to becoming a cherished tradition for generations of Chicagoans.
The special also highlights the fun moments that have made Bud Billiken such an anticipated summer event. We’ll rewind to feature multiple generations talking about what “The Bud” means to their families, some of the best dance moves along King Drive (young and old, firefighters and even members of the ABC 7 team), tastiest food favorites, and memorable appearances from hometown stars including Chaka Khan, Common, Chance the Rapper and the late, great Bernie Mac, along with other famous participants including Michael Jordan, boxers Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and T.I.
The cornerstone of the Bud Billiken Parade has always been education; a way of showcasing the talents of young people and getting them excited to return to school. A flashback to all the notable guests of past parades, along with a fresh look from Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson about “The Bud’s” influence on Chicago Public School students, will be showcased.
Going hand in hand with the Chicago Defender Charities focus on education, the charities has awarded $1.5 million in Bud Billiken scholarships to outstanding students. This year’s eight Bud Billiken scholarship recipients will talk about how these awards are helping them to fulfill their educational dreams.