On Saturday, August 10, 2019, kicking off at 10:00 am, the streets of Bronzeville will be a vision of history. Thousands of people will be lined up along the historical route of Martin Luther King Drive, attending the country’s largest and longest-running African American parade. To mark this extraordinary milestone, comedian and actor, Lil Rel Howery will serve as the Grand Marshal for this historic moment.
As the official Grand Marshal, Howery says, “I am excited and honored to be chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal at the Bud Billiken™ Parade,” said Howery. “I’ve attended and watched this parade on television with my entire family since I can remember. I’ve accomplished some amazing things in my career, but to be part of this amazing back-to-school tradition is on top of the list. I love my city so much, and to have a chance to see all those amazing young faces in the crowd will me make me so happy.”
As a Chicago native, Howery grew up on the Westside where he graduated from Richard T. Crane High School and later went on to pursue a successful career as a comedian, actor-writer and producer. He starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the Netflix hit, BIRD BOX. His latest film, BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, won the Audience Award at Sundance. His breakout role as TSA agent Rod Williams in the Oscar-winning GET OUT, ushered Howery into superstar status. He starred in, and executive produced his own sitcom on Fox, self-titled, “Rel.” Up next Lil Rel Howery will be starring opposite Ryan Reynolds in FREE GUY, Angry Birds, Bad Trip and starring opposite Issa Rae in THE PHOTOGRAPH.
A host of notable Chicagoans will join Howery as special guests and Honorary Marshals, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot; four-time Grammy nominated artist, BJ The Chicago Kid; Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Chicago hip hop artist, philanthropist, and humanitarian; HGTV’s The Downing Brothers (Anthony and Anton Downing); Tom Joyner, Radio Host and Founder of Reach Media; Chairman and CEO of Central City Productions, Inc., Don Jackson; Monica Haslip, executive director of Little Black Pearl; Arthur Robertson, founder and executive director of South Shore Drill Team; Terisa Griffin, R&B recording artist and philanthropist; Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State and Erika Bracey, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The theme for the Bud Billiken Parade this year is Celebrating “90 Years of Excellence” the Bud Billiken Parade enters another year of festivities showcasing some of the best youthful talents around the world. Since 1929 the parade has attracted public dignitaries from President Truman, then-Senator Barack Obama, numerous mayors; musical stars, James Brown, The Supremes, Muhammad Ali to Chance the Rapper and countless film and televisions stars. One of the few remaining Black legacies, the Bud Billiken Parade is excited to carry the torch into nine decades of celebrating ‘community, service, education and social, economic empowerment.’
ABC 7 Chicago will broadcast the parade live, with Bronzeville Life as the official parade media sponsor, a Chicago Defender Charities, Inc. publication, founded by Bud Billiken Parade Chair, Myiti Sengstacke-Rice.
“This year marks the Bud Billiken Parade’s 90th anniversary,” said Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO of the parade and Chicago Defender Charities. “That’s 90 years of family reunions, nine decades of uplifting our youth, and nearly a century of the tradition that continues to instill the values of education, heritage, and community. I am immensely grateful to carry on this legacy as the fourth generation in my family to run the Bud Billiken™ Parade.”
In keeping with tradition, the parade will run in conjunction with the “It Takes A Village” Family Fair in Washington Park, behind Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts. The fair will serve as a family-oriented back-to-school event with activities for all ages—including school supply giveaways, games, educational resources, entertainment along with free haircuts and hair braiding for young attendees.
The fair activities will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.
About the Bud Billiken® Parade
The Bud Billiken® Parade, founded by “The Father of Black Journalism” Robert Sengstacke Abbott in 1929, is the largest African American parade in the United States. With education as its founding value, the parade takes place at the close of summer, ensuring that Bud Billiken® kicks off the school year with high energy and enthusiasm. The parade highlights include contests featuring categories in Best Drill Team, Best Dance Team, Best Marching Band and Cheerleading Squad. At the close of the parade, all attendees are welcomed to join in the post-parade festivities in Washington Park.