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.
“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.”
“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.”
“The year of celebration will include multiple events held in New York along the Mighty Metropolitan route. This is a nod to the roots of many legendary Black cyclists like Major Taylor, and Olympic medallist Nelson Vails who will be joining events as a special guest. Other guests will include Ama Nsek (L39ION of LA) and Rahsaan Bahati, (Bahati Foundation Elite Team) as well as community leaders from the Black Cyclists Network and Level Up Cycling Movement.
All Zwifters will receive invitations to join the hour-long social rides in New York, where the pace will be managed by ride leaders and kept between 1.5-2 watts per kilogram of body weight.
In addition to celebrating Black athletic achievements, the virtual training platform has chosen LA Bicycle Academy (LABA) — a youth education program, community bike shop and youth cycling team — as its charity partner in a bid to expand its impact. LABA was set up by Damon Turner, who has mentored the likes of Justin Williams, Cory Williams, Rahsaan Bahati and Coryn Rivera, and its mission is to support communities without exposure and access to cycling. In addition to making a donation to LABA, which sponsors young athletes without the resources to continue their cycling careers, Zwift will be offering them mentorship opportunities.”
Change begins when we come together. I’ll see you out there fellow feminist Zwifters! Let’s ride. And as part of our celebration of Black cyclists I’m hoping to share some of their stories here on the blog.