First time for CTU float in six years!... Chicago Teachers Union to have float in Bud Billiken Day parade August 14

For the first time since 2003, the Chicago Teachers Union will have a float and participate in a big way in the annual Bud Billiken Day Parade on Chicago's South Side. The 2010 parade will take place on August 14, 2010 and will go down King Drive from 39th St. to Washington Park, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The parade usually draws more than one million people along the line of march, which stretches more than two miles at some points. The Bud Billiken Parade is often ignored by Chicago's corporate media because almost all the people watching the parade along the line of March are among the people who constutute the majority of Chicago Public Schools students.

Above, the Julian High School marching band was one of more than a dozen Chicago public schools bands that took part in the August 12, 2006, Bud Billiken Parade down Chicago's King Drive. The parade is the annual "back to school" kickoff. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. The decision that the Chicago Teachers Union would begin participating in Bud Billiken again came almost immediately after the CORE slate, headed by former King High School chemistry teacher Karen Lewis, won the runoff election on June 11, 2010. Although the CTU had had a major presence in Bud Billiken in the early years of the 21st Century, during the years Marilyn Stewart and the United Progressive Caucus ran the union (August 2004 through June 2010), the union stopped participating in the massive parade, which is the city's annual "back to school" event.

Even though the Chicago Teachers Union did not participate in Bud Billiken in a major way between 2004 and 2009, other unions used the parade to bring a message against school closings and cutbacks to the parade route. Above, SEIU Local 73 mobilized against the schools closings and cutbacks in special education funding in August 2006, with union members on the union float holding signs proclaiming "Stop School Closings!" and "No Cuts in Special Education!" Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The 2010 CTU float will be at 39th St. for the beginning of the parade. As of August 8, the CTU had not announced precisely where on 39th St. those who wished to begin with the float should be, and the floats and bands participating in the parade stretch for more than a mile along 39th St. and north of 39 St. along King Drive prior to the beginning of the parade. When more information becomes available, it will probably be posted on the CTU Website at

Traditionally, people have joined the float along the parade route. The union will also be hosting a picnic for union members in Washington Park (behind Dyett High School) at the end of the parade route.

In a message to all Chicago Teachers Union members, the CTU said:

Dear CTU members and all friends of public education, Join the CTU at the Bud Billiken Parade

Each school year we inspire our students to reach for the sky. Bud Billiken Day is our chance to honor their talents. Let's celebrate our special day in the neighborhood.

Bud Billiken Day Parade and CTU-Sponsored Picnic, Saturday, August 14th, 2010, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

The parade will begin at 10:00 a.m. and starts at 39th and King Drive and ends at 55th and Ellsworth. The CTU is sponsoring a picnic behind Dyett High School (555 E. 51st St). We will provide food, but feel free to bring your own to share.

At the time of the August 2006, Bud Billiken Parade, incumbent Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (above during the August 12, 2006 parade) worked the crowd walking down the sidelines of the parade while supporters manned a float in the street. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Shuttle buses will be available in the White Castle parking lot, located at 35th and King Drive, from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

We will have a float this year and leaflets to pass as we walk; we will also be handing out bags of schools supplies to kids. Please join us! Questions? contact: norine or

A similar message from the CTU message went out to CORE members on the CORE ListServe and through other channels.

Historically, the Bud Billiken Parade has been a major venue for politicians to be visible to the public from Chicago's South Side, once dubbed the "Black Metropolis" by Roosevelt University Sociologist St. Clair Drake. In recent years, every major Illinois and Chicago politician has joined in the parade, at times with droll results. During the 2006 parade, when he was running for re-election as Governor, Rod Blaogjevich had a presence in the parade and worked the crowd by walking along the sidelines shaking hands as well. The only Chicago politician who almost always avoids the parade is Mayor Richard M. Daley, in the opinion of many because he doesn't want to risk being booed along the parade route.

During the years he served in the Illinois State Senate and then in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama made sure to participate in the Bud Billiken Parade. Above, Obama greeted a well wisher during the August 12, 2006, parade, two years before he began to work seriously to get the Democratic Party nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In the early years of the 21st Century, Barack Obama, first as an Illinois State Senator and then as U.S. Senator, participated in the parade. Obama has not been in Bud Billiken since being elected President of the United States of America. 