The 29 Days Of February is curated by Victor Allen yearly as part of our celebration of Black History Month.
Bessie Stringfield began her cross-country tour at just 19 years old. She flipped a penny onto a map of the country to determine her destination and off she went. By 1930, she became the first African-American woman known to have traveled via motorcycle to all 48 states in the continental United States. She was one of the few civilian motorcycle dispatch riders for the US Army during World War II. Credited with breaking down barriers for both women and Jamaican-American motorcyclists
Starting in the 1950s, she became a nurse but sought to continue her two-wheeling legacy. Police, however, made it clear that they weren’t going to allow a black woman to ride around on her bike and so refused her a license. During the four years she worked for the Army, she crossed the United States eight times. She regularly encountered racism during this time, reportedly being deliberately knocked down by a white male in a pickup truck while traveling in the South.
In the 1950s Stringfield moved to Miami, Florida, where at first she was told “nigger women are not allowed to ride motorcycles” by the local police. After repeatedly being pulled over and harassed by officers, she visited the police captain. They went to a nearby park to prove her riding abilities. She gained the captain’s approval to ride and did not have any more trouble with the police.
Victor Allen is the co-host of Morning Coffee With Mario, Pax Stereo’s flagship AM series featuring reality talk and centering on today’s talk worthy events. Morning Coffee will wake you up with insight and humor that will have you thinking and laughing out loud. Includes Victor Allen’s Nu New Sportz and HOtt PiXX by Vic. Live Mondays @ 10AM PST.