African American Riders from Harley-Davidsons’ perspective



I want to say that it was high time that Harley graced their website with the history of African American Bikers and our rich contribution to their bottom line and in the sport of motorcycling.

I am a bit taken aback because it took me to push them into recognizing us within the last 2 years. I did see the have overlooked several of our icons. One of which I will continue being his cheerleader, Cliff Vaughs.

Cliff Vaughs is responsible for the concept, name and design of the bikes for the movie Easy Rider. He was at my home last week and I had some friends over and they called him the “renaissance man”. The name is truly fitting for all of his accomplishments on and off motorcycles. Most don’t know that he was a former VP of the Hollywood Chapter of the Chosen Few.

I want to let Harley-Davidson know that there are many black female Harley riders today who need to be recognized for their contribution like our hero Bessie Stringfield. We no longer accept being overlooked because African American females actually have more disposable income then our male counterparts.

It would really peak the black female rider interest to know that the first all black club was called the Bayview Rockets and they were co-ed and yes the women in the club rode Harleys.

As you read the article below and when you have time visit the website to see other articles you will just skim the top of who and what we’ve done in the sport of motorcycling and in growing the bottom line for Harley Davidson in our vast purchasing power today.

History: It’s all about freedom.

The history of the African American biker scene is filled with visionaries, artists, leaders and revolutionaries. People like William B. Johnson, the first African American Harley dealer. The teen-aged gypsy rider better known as Bessie Stringfield. P. Wee, the influential motorcycle club leader. And Benny Hardy, the unknown custom builder who created the most-famous motorcycle in the world, Captain America, for the movie Easy Rider. They each rode a motorcycle to showcase their pride, and fueled a movement more powerful than simple internal combustion.

The real revolution started in the late 1940s, as black infantrymen streamed home from World War II, hungry to replace the adrenaline rush of combat. Post-war, surplus bikes were available and cheap. In this era of segregated America, some dealers wouldn’t sell a new bike to an African American. Factions began to form out of love of the motorcycle. Some rode choppers, some rode dressers. The next step was the motorcycle club, some all-black, others integrated. They started to form in the late 1950s. The East Bay Dragons, Star Riders, Buffalo Riders, The Eagles, The Defiant Ones and The Chosen Few.

In his 2004 memoir Soul on Bikes: The East Bay Dragons MC and the Black Biker Set, Dragons founder and president Tobie Gene Levingston explains that, “The level of camaraderie that young black men found in motorcycle clubs was something that couldn’t be obtained around the house; blowing off steam and being able to relate to like-minded individuals with the same struggles, experiences, upbringing and ideals – what it meant to be black.”

However violent or anti-establishment some clubs were, they recognized that in order to get respect and be successful they need to stay positive and push their brothers to do well – within both the club and the community.

The most basic but essential element has always been the ride, and a Harley has always been at the top of the food chain. Chopped fenders, raked forks and a souped-up motor made you a man among men. Show up on the wrong ride, and you weren’t taken seriously. You either got with it or got out. In Soul on Bikes, Levingston lays it out when speaking with a prospective member: “Man, you can’t get into the club with this Jap shit. You need to get yourself a Harley-Davidson. When you get one, come back and see us.”

The movement keeps rolling. Rare Breed Motorcycle Club was founded in 1989 to create a positive organization for African American men who share a passion for building and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“Our whole thing about forming Rare Breed is to be different from any other motorcycle club out there,” says co-founding member KW. “And we let the other young black men know there are other things to life than being in the neighborhood and the drug scene, the streets and the violence.” This group has since grown into a brotherhood of men from all walks of life, with chapters in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Freedom is the universal truth shared by all riders: the freedom of riding without limits, barriers, rules or agendas. A rider never takes freedom for granted.

“Best freedom I ever had was on my bike, man,” says P. Wee, a member since 1959 of the LA Defiant Ones MC, and one of the godfathers of the urban biker scene. “By the time I put it into fourth gear, I feel like I can take on the world.”

Source: Harley-Davidson

 

 

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~ by goldie1779 on July 13, 2011.

One Response to “African American Riders from Harley-Davidsons’ perspective”

  1. Great review! This is truly the type of blog post that needs to be shared around the internet. Shame on the Google for not positioning this article higher! btw Plase check my free ipad 2 blog, hope you will find interesting information about free ipad 2 there!

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