ABC 7 Chicago presents Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 years special

Mayor Lightfoot, Chance the Rapper give celebrity shout-outs

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, August 9, 2020
ABC7 captures the spirit of an annual back-to-school tradition in Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC 7 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-long special, Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years.

PART 1: Bud Billiken, Celebrating 91 Years

ABC7 captures the spirit of an annual back-to-school tradition in 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, hosted the special, with Terrell Brown and Karen Jordan also contributing.

The special spotlights the greatest moments from past parades, performances by the Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Drill team, celebrity shout outs including Common, Chance and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and dazzling new performances.

PART 2: The History of Bud Billiken

Part 2 of Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years looks back on the history of the country's largest African American parade.

Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years will air twice, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, and will also be exclusively streamed live on and ABC 7's connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku.

"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," ABC 7 President and General Manager John Idler said.

PART 3: South Shore Drill Team & Jesse White Tumblers

Part 3 of Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years, featuring the South Shore Drill Team & Jesse White Tumblers.

Chicago Defender Charities President and CEO Myiti Sengstacke-Rice said, "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, Burton's alma mater, where "blast-from-the-past" photos of her 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. Stewart 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.

PART 4: Dancing on the Route

Watch Part 4 of Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years, highlighting years of fancy footwork along the parade route.

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 special also highlights the fun moments that have made Bud Billiken such an anticipated summer event. It will 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.

PART 5: A Parade Built on Education

Watch Part 5 of Bud Billiken, Celebrating 91 Years, as we take a closer look at the back-to-school tradition.

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 Janice Jackson about "The Bud's" influence on CPS 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 fulfill their educational dreams.

PART 6: Bud Billiken & Food

Watch Part 6 of Bud Billiken, Celebrating 91 Years, looking back at those mouthwatering moments along the parade route.

For more information, visit

WATCH: ABC 7 Chicago's Terrell Brown previews parade special

The largest African American parade in the country will not- be happening this weekend, but ABC7 is still bringing you the excitement of the back to school tradition.