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Center Court Stars: Robert Abbott

Robert AbbottRobert Abbott

1898 Chicago-Kent College of Law graduate
Founder, The Chicago Defender newspaper
Founder, Bud Billiken Parade in Bronzeville

Robert Abbott is a famous Illinois Tech alumnus and a former resident of our Bronzeville community from 1874 through 1940.

He founded a newspaper called The Chicago Defender in 1905, which grew to have the highest circulation of any black-owned newspaper in the country. Known as "America's Black Newspaper," it had a circulation of more than 200,000 by the early 1920s. As a result, Abbott became one of the few self-made black millionaires in the early 20th century.

After inventing the fictional character "Bud Billiken" with David Kellum for articles in The Defender, they established the Bud Billiken Parade, which is now the second largest parade in the United States. Held annually on the second Saturday of August, 2017 marked the 88th year of the parade.


Sponsored by Lewis College of Human Sciences, Center Court Stars is a monthly feature brought to you by Illinois Tech Dining and Illinois Tech’s Coalition on Inclusion: Celebrating Diversity in our Community. Are there other famous Illinois Tech alumni or people from Chicago you would like to see featured here? Submit your nominations to IITCenterCourtStars@gmail.com.