CultureMyiti Sengstacke Rice shares insight on 94 years of Bud Billiken

Myiti Sengstacke Rice shares insight on 94 years of Bud Billiken

2022 Bud Billiken Parade Royal Court and Myiti Sengstacke Rice (middle) (Photo courtesy of Bud Billiken Images)
This year marks the 94th annual Bud Billiken Day Parade, a cherished Chicago tradition. This iconic event, organized to celebrate African American culture and support educational opportunities, promises an exuberant display of community spirit and rich heritage.
Rolling out spoke with Myiti Sengstacke Rice, the president and CEO of Chicago Defender Charities, about this year’s parade.What is special about this year’s parade?
What makes the Bud Billiken Parade and Festival so amazing and unique is that we are celebrating 94 years as the largest and oldest African American parade in the United States. Each year, hundreds of thousands come out in droves to celebrate our community, culture and heritage. We have the opportunity to showcase the talents and hard work of marching bands, dance groups, floats, community organizations, and celebrities. The parade ends with the largest back-to-school festival in Washington Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. where we give away backpacks, school supplies, food, entertainment, free haircuts, hair braiding and festivities.What are some of your favorite moments from the Bud Billiken Parade?
One of my favorite moments is the year President Barack Obama announced that he was running for president of the United States. He and first lady Michelle Obama showed up big at the parade that year. The excitement was in the air and the community really rallied around him and gave support.
What does a day at the parade look like in 2023?
A day at the Bud Billiken Parade is like a huge family reunion. You can smell the barbecue in the air and thousands attend to line the streets, cheering for participants, enjoying [the] performances and participating in festivities. It includes music, dance, food vendors and community engagement activities.
What is the most important aspect of the Bud Billiken Parade?
The Chicago Defender Charities produces the Bud Billiken Parade and festival. The parade is the Charities’ major fundraiser that affords us the opportunity to continue our year-round programming and charitable giving. We have a yearly “Young and Gifted Master Class” program where instructors teach students film production, journalism and STEAM. We also give away $50,000 in scholarships every year and we give educational and financial support to over 25 of our Performing Arts League Program students.
Why did you choose poet J. Ivy to be the Grand Marshal?
We are so honored to have Grammy-Award winning J. Ivy as the 2023 Grand Marshal. J. Ivy exhibits Black excellence and represents someone that the youth can look up to. He represents the values that our parade founder, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, possessed. J. Ivy is from Chicago and his significant contributions to our community, his cultural influence, and accomplishments made him the perfect candidate to be this year’s Grand Marshal. He joins the likes of other amazing Grand Marshals such as President Barack Obama, Chaka Khan, Michael Jordan, Candace Parker, Rapper T.I. and Chance the Rapper to name a few.
This year’s Bud Billiken Day Parade is Aug. 12, 2023, in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago.

Source: Rolling Out

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