Harley-Davidson Commemorates Black History Month

During all month of February, the Harley-Davidson Museum celebrates the evolution of motorcycle culture through the eyes of African American riders. Individuals who shaped this long and proud history are highlighted through memorabilia and first-hand accounts.

“African Americans have influenced and helped shape motorcycle culture throughout our history. Riding culture is seen differently today because of their numerous contributions to it,” said John Comissiong, director of African American outreach marketing, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “We’re number one in sales to African Americans, and not only are we very proud of our shared history, we’re always looking for new stories to tell.”

The exhibit is featuring the stories of some of these highly influential trail blazers, images of Harley-Davidson legends like William B. Johnson, the first African American Harley-Davidson dealer; Bessie Stringfield, the first known African American woman to ride solo cross-country on a Harley motorcycle in the 1930s and 1940s; and Ben Hardy, the custom builder who helped create one of the most famous motorcycles in the world, Captain America, for the movie Easy Rider.

Harley-Davidson supports and attends a variety of African American events to connect with current riders, such as Atlantic Beach Bike Week, Daytona Black Bike Week and the National Bikers RoundUp, where thousands of African American riders gather in the spirit of unity and in true biker form. Harley-Davidson Museum.

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30 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Commemorates Black History Month”


  1. 1 Jason Hallman Feb 14th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    African Americans are as much apart of our future as they have contributed to our past. M/C’s like the East Bay Dragons, The Sin City Disciples and countless others have marked the landscape of the club scene and helped create the counter-culture that so many of us revel in. Builders such as Sugar Bear and Earl Pitts have put their own unique spin on things and it is impossible to deny the impact that countless other names and faces have contributed to our way of life and leisure. Black History month is something that needs to be much more widely regarded and celebrated. We are often reminded of what our fore fathers have given us in the way of opportunity. It is only fitting that all groups in society recognize the contributions given to all of us by those in every separate ethnic back ground. Great post Cyril…Kudos!

  2. 2 Drake Feb 14th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Agree with Jason. A lot of white bikers are prejudiced and it’s shameful. Celebrating the culture is celebrating all bikers. No exception. Daytona Bike Week and Daytona Black Bike Week should be one, not 2 separate events in 2 different locations.

  3. 3 Spencer Feb 14th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    One day Cyril told me that to push away prejudice, the industry needs a top black, and a top female custom builder. He’s right.

  4. 4 Donnie Feb 14th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Prejudicism = stupid.

  5. 5 Alan sharp Feb 14th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    it don’t matter wot color you r just ride yr bike…………..

  6. 6 Conrad Nicklus Feb 14th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Im sorry but “Black History Month” is discrimination and prejudiced all on its own. I don’t see a “White History Month” or a “Brown History Month” etc. I do not see people calling themselves “Italian Americans”, “African British”, ETC ETC ETC….

  7. 7 Bruce Feb 14th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Conrad. You never heard about Italo-Americans, Cuban-Americans, African-Americans? FYI all English-Africans come from Africa. So, they are called African-English in England and its associated territories, for ex. of the Caribbean islands. What a lack of culture. Please, travel outside America before you drop dumb things like that in this website.

  8. 8 Seven Feb 14th, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Conrad….. read what Bruce wrote AGAIN.

    Btw, White history month is 11 months long. enjoy.
    I pay close attention to history period….color is not my main concern but it is nice for
    AA kids to get a little sense of pride and accomplishment in their race.

  9. 9 Jason Hallman Feb 14th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Wow…I never felt offended one time by the term Black History Month. Anyone that has attended an American History class in secondary school knows that the only history that is told is very simple and does not delve into the type of human sacrifice that was made by African Americans that were held against their will and then discriminated against horribly for a century. Shame on you Conrad for saying something so one-sided and simple minded. Perhaps saying nothing at all would have been a better choice? African Americans have enriched our lives far beyond the likes of music and the arts. They have fought along side of all Americans in both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam for your right to speak what you feel regardless of whether anyone else agrees with you.

  10. 10 Rick Fairless Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:45 am

    In 1970, Ray Stevens recorded a song called “Everything Is Beautiful”. My favorite line from that song goes like this, “We shouldn’t care about the length of his hair, or the color of his skin”. I believed those words then & I believe them even more today. Hey, we are all in this together. Let’s just all get along & ride our motorsickles & live happily ever after. RF

  11. 11 Bill Feb 15th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Right on Rick. I’ve been going to Rick’s place for over ten years, and the crowd is the best mix of people you could hope for… and everyone gets along. I’ve never seen a fight, argument, or any other altercation. Keep up the great environment Rick. We appreciate you.

  12. 12 Conrad Nicklus Feb 15th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Bruce,

    I never once in any of my History classes (I love history BTW) heard the terms you mentioned. Even in college, they call them Cuban immigrants, Italian immigrants, etc etc, but when it comes down to it the term “African American” always seems to be brought up. I have numerous “AA” friends and only a few even like the term “African American”, the ones that dislike it tell me they are Americans plain and simple.

    Seven,

    Cut the liberal shit. “11 MONTHS LONG”… With all the give me programs, fear of being sued for using words in which people dislike ( which is breaking the freedom of speech thing i love so much BTW) and basically being manipulated into thinking you’re racist for voicing an opinion not being meant to call out a “race” but instead a PERSON… THAT IS ALL BULLSHIT! I’m sorry, but “Black History Month” is all year long, just as “White History” etc etc is all year long. Everyone was created equal, right? Then why is it we have subjected months towards specific races?

    But, on a side note, yes they fought in the wars, some were treated badly as slaves and they were discriminated against for over a century. BUT, we have moved passed that and have made it to where we are today, we all co exist together, are friends, and some even family! Thats whats so great about the terrible experiences from the past, they have shaped the future we have now.

  13. 13 43knuckle Feb 15th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Constantly bringing attention to certain races or lifestyles perpetuates discrimination and separates us. Look at the stark contrast of how certain races can have organizations/services,/businesses for their color, but whites can’t do the same thing without being “racist”.

    Almost all of us have ancestors that lived through and under very difficult and horrible times. It may not have been in the last 100 years but it’s in there somewhere.

  14. 14 Richard Feb 15th, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Bigoted people are usually easy to identify. You all know that old saying, “if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it’s very likely a duck”

  15. 15 Blkbkr Feb 15th, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Reason behind why Conrad G Woodson (founder of Black History Month) started it:

    He worked to preserve the history of African Americans and accumulated a collection of thousands of artifacts and publications. He noted that African American contributions “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.” Race prejudice, he concluded, “is merely the logical result of tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.

    Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that the founder of Black History Month was named Conrad?

  16. 16 GetYoHeadOutOfYoAss Feb 16th, 2012 at 9:27 am

    For those who call the rest of us racists every time we disagree with Obama’s antics or dare to question the necessity of a Black History Month etc, try this one out for size.

    Was Charles Darwin a racist ?

    “Since the dawn of history the Negro has owned the continent of Africa. Rich beyond the dream of poet’s fancy, crunching acres of diamonds beneath his bare black feet and yet he never picked one up from the dust until a white man showed to him its glittering light.

    His land swarmed with powerful and docile animals, yet he never dreamed a harness, cart, or sled. A hunter by necessity, he never made an axe, spear, or arrowhead worth preserving beyond the moment of its use. He lived as an ox, content to graze for an hour. In a land of stone and timber he never sawed a foot of lumber, carved a block, or built a house save of broken sticks and mud.

    With league on league of ocean strand and miles of inland seas, for four thousand years he watched their surface ripple under the wind, heard the thunder of the surf on his beach, the howl of the storm over his head, gazed on the dim blue horizon calling him to worlds that lie beyond, and yet he never dreamed a sail.”

    — Charles Darwin

  17. 17 Chris Feb 17th, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Recognizing the context of the time that Darwin lived I wouldn’t necessarily conclude him to be a racist by those statements. I do think though that his view is narrow in its Euro-centrism and not consistent with historical reality.

    First, to diamonds. Ancient Egyptians used diamonds as a symbol of the sun, of strength, and of truth and love. African people were aware of the existence of and value of diamonds. It wasn’t, however, until1866 that diamonds in large quantities were discovered in South Africa which was, at that time, being colonized by the English and Dutch. Up to that time, diamonds on a global scale were extraordinarily rare. the South African deposit was quite possibly the largest the world had known . Diamonds certainly were not paving the ground under the African’s “bare black feet” as Darwin states. Darwin’s statement is not consistent with reality.

    Relative to domestication of animals and use of tools, around 700 a.d. the Islamic Moors brought agriculture, engineering, mining, industry, manufacturing, architecture, and scholarship to Spain, making it the center of expanding civilization in Europe. To this point, Darwin is just wrong.

    To the point of oceanic exploration, there is evidence of ocean going vessels used by the Egyptian Empire as early as around 2500 B.C. Again, Darwin is wrong.

    Was Darwin a racist? That I can’t answer. Was he a very good historian? Absolutely not.

  18. 18 Blkbkr Feb 17th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Chris, that was much appreciated.

  19. 19 Rick Lossner Feb 20th, 2012 at 8:15 am

    wow.. am I the only one to agree with Conrad? Apparently most here a blind ;(

    Black History month should be abolished… we’ve got a black president ( or is it white? he is 50% ). You can no longer cry discrimination .. get over it..

    A quick look out there…We’ve got black ONLY colleges.. black ONLY websites .. etc,etc.. If you reverse this, you’ll find yourself at the end of a lawsuit…

    wake up folks…

  20. 20 Hammer Feb 20th, 2012 at 9:55 am

    It’s easy to talk the talk, but very few actually walk thew walk when claiming to be prejudice free. The couple of posters here who are obviously overtly racist will never change. But at least we know where they stand; they are prejudice and obviously proud of it. But let me ask the others who talk a more conciliatory note, how far would you go to back your statements? It’s so easy to talk but much harder to act. I’m not saying anyone here is less than sincere and committed to wiping out prejudice, but do you practice what you preach is all I’m asking? We are the only magazine that routinely places ethnic girls on the cover. I challenge any other magazine to do the same. We have a mixed staff, all competent and productive workers, because I can’t afford a token anyone. At events like the Cincinnati Expo, we had all ethnic models represented. Even with dire predictions within the industry from people like Conrad and Rick, we still ignore the racial prejudices and have never regretted it. Sugar Bear is one of our best friends and not just when we need a feature. He’s a hell of a guy and his color is invisible to us.
    I am not offended by Black History Month nor any other day, event or activity that helps a group of Americans feel better about themselves and gives them a sense of pride. The majority of voices are are very good and positive, just take it a step further and act upon it. You can make a difference.

  21. 21 CafeSportyTC Feb 20th, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    the original title of Darwin’s “The origin of species” book was this “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” tell me if that doesn’t sound wrong… Darwin was a tool trying desperately to believe that this life is all their is. because he didn’t agree with the one true way. people have there reasons for leaving the faith… but it is typically at their folly…..
    okay, razz away now

  22. 22 GetYoHeadOutOfYoAss Feb 20th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    This might help put things in perspective from a Black Man directly:

    http://therealrevo.com/blog/?p=57506

  23. 23 Blackmax Feb 20th, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Everytime something like this, here comes up the dialogue all over again ……
    Not that dialogue is bad, sometimes it’s needed on a subject like this.
    Rick Fairless hits the nail on the head as does Chris.
    Darwin (in his time) held a commonly held view which has been disproven over the course of time. Time and personal knowledge is the cure for this and always has been.
    I don;t know how many times I’ve heard or talked to some guy in his late 50’s thru 70’s who say “That what we were taught back then”.
    My response is “What have the times taught you, now???”
    I don’t think anyone on this blog would refuse to ride with me if we met up at a rally or out on the road. And if they did, no big thing, there are a lot of other people (both black, white, green, purple and polka-dotted) who will. Enough of this, I going for a ride !!!!!!!

  24. 24 nicker Feb 20th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Seems to me Mike Jackson put it best in one of his songs:
    “… i don’t want to live my life White or Black…”

    And so, to the point….. “What have the times taught you, now???”

    Well, since you ask:
    They’ve taught me that “back then” the strategy was to continually accentuate that there were “differences” and to codify those differences by labels such as Colored, [hyphenated]-American, Black, Yellow, White…. etc.

    Times taught me that “now” is the time for every man to take responsibility for himself by not allowing others to establish his individual identity or worth.

    As Bikers in the old tradition, we value our selves by what we have and can accomplish. Our legacy is that of self reliance and individuality, not in the contemporary group-think of “we’re all in this together.”

    And so, establishing a race or sexuality de jure accomplishes nothing for any of “our ilk” (scooter jockeys). In our context, such strategies are fast becoming decisive at best and racist in some cases.

    IMHO anyway
    -nicker-

  25. 25 burnout Feb 21st, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Well said nicker. peace

  26. 26 Jeff Nicklus Feb 21st, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Nicker,

    Very well said!

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  27. 27 Blackmax Feb 21st, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Hey guys…
    I’m not starting a augument here but a wiser man than I said this:

    ” No man is an island” and
    “A wise man is known by the company he keeps, the enemies that he has and the friends that he
    makes”
    Bikers are very self reliant, & usually self -supporting, but, we don;t isolate ourselves.
    We also socialize in groups, packs etc, whatever you want to call it, who have this one thing in common our cycles and “The Ride”.
    Some of the worse parts and misuse of biker history/culture have come from those kinds of associations, likewise, some of the best parts also, Me, I chose to focus on the positive …..
    To see people of all shapes, races & types come together for a toy run or an event like Sturgis or the Love Ride is a wonderful thing and it all comes about from that one common denominator,
    the bike and the ride. (And maybe, sometimes, doing some good for your fellow man)
    I think we all better get over this “race” thing that divides us as riders / people and stick together before “The Man” decides to hang us all seperately

  28. 28 nicker Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:23 am

    —Max,
    RE:
    “….we all better get over this “race” thing …”

    Spot-on…..!!!
    Because that is just one of the tools that will be used to divide and conquer us.

    RE:
    “…some of the worse parts…. some of the best parts also… [come about from associations]…”

    Well, may be or may be not . Think about this….
    Those who don’t first establish, to and for themselves who and what they are, they will never understand what it means to be a true scooter jockey.

    Attempting to short-cut that process through an “association” risks allowing others to determine who and what you’ll be. God Knows there are enough of those type-a clowns pissing in the proverbial punch bowel as it is.

    More morons racing around neighborhoods with open pipe is actually a way “we” let let “the man” bust our collective chops. And that is a far more realistic example of how “we are all in it together.”
    Not just because we all ride.

    If everyone of us focused more on putting some effort into our individual endeavors instead of worrying about our sexuality or ethnicity, when we do get together we would have a hell of a lot more interesting things to talk about.

    IMHO anyway
    -nicker-

  29. 29 Jeff Nicklus Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Blackmax,

    Look me up at a Rally and I would be happy to ride with you!

    Over & Out,

    Jeff

  30. 30 Blackmax Feb 23rd, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Hey Jeff, Thank You !!!!!

    I almost caught up with you in Sturgis, this year, at Desperado Junction,
    but committments to the group I was with . (1st timers out at Sturgis) prevented me from doing so.
    Sometimes you sacrifice for the greater good (and your friends).
    But, no worries, we will make it happen, probably sooner than either of us can imagine …..

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