In the beginning there was just me, a new rider standing in a crowd of bikers - hundreds of them anxious to ride in a Harley-Davidson dealership-sponsored event.
As I looked around, I saw very few people that looked like me. I am an African-American rider. That is when the clock started ticking to create an environment where dealers would be receptive to hosting events that catered to the unique interest of the black motorcycle riding community. Three years later that opportunity came.
Events at the dealerships benefit many causes. However, I never saw one of these events that benefitted the lives of young people that look like me.
In 2008, the now defunct Oak Lawn Harley-Davidson welcomed the MLK M5 Project under my leadership. Across the country, we raised over 100k. The project was a national fundraising effort benefiting the Washington, DC National Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation.
We delivered those funds to the Memorial Foundation on the site where Dr. King’s memorial was scheduled to be built. Motorcyclists by the hundreds representing various clubs and regions came together under and around a pole tent during a culminating ceremony. It was there I announced our next project called, Bikers 4 Obama.
Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE became that specific event in 2009 when we launched the first effort outside of Chicago from Harley Davidson of Atlanta. That event culminated at the King Center for Non Violent Social Change where I gave a presentation alongside Dr. King’s nephew Isaac Ferris. Ferris was then CEO of the King Center.
From 2009 to 2010, Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE was held in numerous cities while collaborating with local nonprofits with programs geared toward education. In 2011, Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE Foundation was established to continue the work of exposing students to the campuses of historically black colleges and universities.
In each city, the event highlights historic people, places and events while telling a story about America’s history that says despite our challenges we have always found ways to move the nation forward.
Considering our start, some say – political. I say programmatic, to help take us all from where we are to where we ought to be. Supporting Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE Foundation produces the change we seek by bringing together diverse groups in association with motorcycling to benefit minority students pursuing a post-secondary education.
Education is not a black or white issue nor Democrat or Republican but an American issue which we can all come together to help reverse negative trends.
Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE.
Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE Tells a Story About America's History
Ride for CHANGE Ride for HOPE event registration at Bayside Harley-Davidson in Portsmouth, Virginia.