COVID did not stop Black America’s largest parade

(Photo by Eddy “Precise” Lamarre for rolling out)

The 92 annual Bud Billiken back to school parade is a celebration of Black families and education. The oldest back to school parade in the nation returned after being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID. This year it returned with a shortened route and measures put in place to protect those who were coming out for the experience. Rapid COVID-19 testing by the Chicago Department of Public Health and Walgreens was available at the parade from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Washington Park.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot were present to celebrate the return of the parade, and stress the importance of being vaccinated as children return to school in the fall.

Mayor Lightfoot addressed the crowd at the VIP breakfast before the start of the parade. “Somebody asked me a few years ago when I marched in this parade what does it feel like with everything that’s going on on the South and west side of Chicago. I said take a look at all this Black love. Take a look at all these folks who are out here who love their city who love their family and love their neighborhood who are coming together peacefully in an expression of what the true essence of Black Chicago is all about,” said Lightfoot.

At its core the Bud Billiken parade is Black Chicago personified. A gathering of Black people in the Bronzeville neighborhood parading down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on the South-Side of Chicago with children playing and laughing is a beautiful portrait of the city.

As the city adjusts to its new normal, the ocurence of such an event provides a sense of comfort and hope as the world moves into this new phase of reality.

Rolling out spoke with Linda White from Hillside, Illinois, who traveled to Chicago to take part in the festivities. “I feel good to be back out enjoying the parade and seeing the people,” said White.

Take a look at a few pics in the gallery.

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