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After 89 years is the Bud Billken Parade still about Black children?

Geek Squad – (Photo Credit: Eddy “Precise”Lamarre)

The Bud Billiken Parade is the oldest African American parade in the United States and will always signal the start of a new school year and an opportunity for the children of Chicago, mainly the south side to simply have fun. This is the 89th year that the parade has been in existence.

Dancing children, Juke Music and the smell of Barbecue …The Bud Billiken Parade is underway!! #Budbilliken #Backtoschool #Chicago #Blackcukture

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As of late, the parade had turned into something else. It doesn’t seem as focused on the children as much as it focuses on politics, corporations and activism. This is an election season and the current Mayor Rahm Emanuel along with every other mayoral candidate was on hand pandering to the people. As mayor Emanuel walked the parade, the crowd boo’ed. Ironically enough, the Chicago Police superintendent was also walking the parade taking a few selfies with the people. Following a weekend in Chicago where 70 people were shot, it makes sense for these two to show their faces looking for support. For the record, the people aren’t feeling the superintendent either.

Vic Mensa and Deon Cole were selected as co-grand marshalls. Vic showed up at the front of the parade on a motorcycle passing out book bags to the youth on the sideline. Vic is no stranger to disputes with the Chicago Police Department and on this day the chant “16 shots” rang out during the parade and a group of activists were carrying a banner that read “Convict Jason Van Dyke.” That specific chant is one used to bring attention to the murder of Laquan Mcdonald for which former officer Jason Van Dyke has yet to stand trial.

The police approached Mensa and threatened to arrest him and tow his bike because he had those activists carrying that banner. In all of that, he still managed to give out one thousand backpacks to the children.

Deon Cole didn’t make it to the front to kick off the festivities and was visibly upset about it. In an interview with ABC 7 News he said, “I’m so upset. I’m like in the middle of the parade. I don’t know why they don’t have me in front. I’m so angry. I am so angry. I waited to do this all my life but it’s about the kids. I’m supposed to be the Grand Marshall not the Grand Middle.” He said all of this in a joking manner but it clearly affected his mood. In the end, he said, “I loved doing this; it is fantastic man. I want all the kids to be inspired… Be you, be original; make sure to be yourself because everybody else is taken.”

Ultimately, this is what it comes down to: this parade is not an opportunity for adults to grandstand. It is about and for the children. Hopefully, it will get back to that and we can all revel in that joy.

Check out a few pictures below.