My return to Chicago in 2018 to photograph the Bud Billinken Parade was inspired by the cable show, “Chi.” It made me homesick for the August summer days of my youth when my mother would send me to Chicago to spend time with her five sisters and my many cousins. They lived in the Robert Taylor Homes and whenever I ventured out there was always one of them by my side. The Homes were demolished in 2007, displacing thousands of families into unfamiliar areas.
This time I stayed with my beautiful cousin Jackie who took me where I needed to go and if she was too busy, told me which trains to take on Chicago’s Transit System. Being from New York it wasn’t too hard of an adjustment. I just had to remember which color went where and if I didn’t, I could always ask. Chicago folks are very friendly.
Once I learned the Bud Billiken Parade is the largest Black parade in America, established in 1929; with the word Bud meaning community and Billinken representing a Chinese mythical character; guardian angel of children, held on the South Side, had me looking forward to photographing my beautiful Black people.
The wonderful power of the parade is the coming together of the city by providing backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils; haircuts, water bottles, calculators, etc. for their children’s return to school. The smiles on their faces and the excitement in their eyes more than made up for the intense 90degree heat on the South Side-done up Chicago style.
Please visit Collector’s Gallery 1 & 2 on this website.
Blessings to everyone and STAY SAFE!
Written and copyright by Howard T. Cash, March 26, 2020