R. Kelly was the honorary grand marshal of the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago last weekend (August 13, 2011)
Not a big deal right? Well apparently it is to some, considering that the parade is a Chi-town tradition since 1929 AND the event celebrates the importance of family, community and also encourages the youth of Chicago about education.
In other words, Robert Sylvester Kelly was front and center at Chicago’s annual back to school parade!
A man who admits he cannot read and famously beat child-porn charges might not seem the most obvious honorary grand marshal of a children’s back-to-school parade.
But there was nothing but love for superstar R&B crooner R. Kelly at the Bud Billiken parade. Families cheered for Kelly — who has been recovering from throat surgery last month — the entire parade route. As his sexually charged tunes blared from a sound system, he smiled and waved back.
“You’re still my baby, no matter what you did!” yelled one fan, Leslie Kaizer, 36.
Most parade-goers agreed, maintaining that charges that Kelly filmed himself having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old should have been forgotten after 2008, when jurors couldn’t be sure it was him on the infamous tape.
“Isn’t that what justice is in the United States?” said Tiffany Levy, 38, a mother of two girls.
Back in 2009, Kelly acknowledged he was illiterate, telling an audience at the time:
“I don’t even read really, and I’m not afraid to say that. My cousins and brothers used to tease me ‘You can’t even read right.’ ”
But his supporters Saturday said that lil tidbit didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things regarding Kelly’s role in the pro-education event.
“He used his God-given talent,” said Chris Bertram, 36. “That doesn’t mean he can’t tell the kids to go to school and do something he didn’t do.”
Kelly actually asked to participate in the parade, said Beverly “Earth Momma” Reed-Scott of Chicago Defender Charities. And while most celebrities “wave from a float and go home,” Kelly visited with youths whose training in green technologies is supported by the parade.
But not everyone was on the R. Kelly support train. 55 year old Gladys Sumerall said it just didn’t sit right with her that a man who’d been in trouble with the law over sex with an underaged girl could be so close to kids these days.
It doesn’t seem right. I don’t think I’d have picked him.