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Cheers for R. Kelly at Bud Billiken Day Parade

R   B Singer R. Kelly 82nd annual Bud Billiken Day Parade. Saturday August 13 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

R & B Singer R. Kelly in the 82nd annual Bud Billiken Day Parade. Saturday, August 13, 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 19, 2011 3:00AM



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.

Kelly, 44, acknowledged his literacy problem in 2009, telling an audience, “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 didn’t harm his 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 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, Reed-Scott said.

There was, however, a small minority of unimpressed parade-goers.

“It doesn’t seem right,” said Gladys Sumerall, 55. “I don’t think I’d have picked him.”



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