Black History · cycling · fitness

Black women and the history of cycling

As blog readers know, I’m interested in the history of cycling and the ways in which the history of cycling and feminism overlap. See, for example, Bicycles: Making good women go bad since the 1800s. Sadly, not suprisingly, lots of the history of feminism is the history of white feminism and that looks to be true of the history of cycling as well.

But some poking and prodding reveals that though there are fewer photos, there were lots of Black cyclists, including some terrific Black women on bikes doing pretty amzing things.

Here’s one of my favourite stories:

Read Five Black Women Cycle 250 miles in 1928

“Easter Weekend, 1928 in New York City five ladies; Marylou Jackson, a student at Hunter College, Velva Jackson, a nurse at Gramercy Hospital,  Ethyl Miller, a public school teacher, Leolya Nelson director of Physical Education for the Y.W.C.A (Young Women’s Christian Association ) and Constance White a student at Sargent School of Physical Training (The New York Age 14 Apr 1928, Sat) embarked on a 250 mile bicycle journey to Washington D.C.  in three days.”

Listen to The Bicycle Story on SoundCloud.

“In 1928, five African American women set off from New York City on a 250 mile adventure to Washington D.C. Their three day ride was about personal pleasure and challenge and calls into question our ideas of who bicycled in history and why.

Thank you to historian Marya McQuirter for her deep insight into the 1928 ride. Thank you to Liz Jose for sharing her experience with touring from NYC to DC.”

May be an image of 5 people, people standing, bicycle and text that says 'Photo: Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, 1928 Addison Scurlock, photographer. Photographcourtesy the Smithsonian institution.'

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