hidden figures: bessie stringfield, first african-american woman to ride across the united states solo

February 2, 2017
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This Black History Month, we’re featuring unsung Black men and women who changed history as we know it. Today we’re featuring Bessie Stringfield, the first African-American woman to ride across the United States solo. At the tender age of 19, she got her mother’s permission to purchase motorcycle and the rest is history. To support herself while traveling the lower 48 states, she performed in motor vehicle shows, performed stunts, and rode in motordomes like the one pictured in the short video below. During World War Two, she was the only woman to serve as motorcycle dispatch and was the first woman to be included in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Her achievement might seem small, but Black travel hasn’t always been the safest or the most welcome idea for people with brown skin, and she paved the way for Black Americans to be able to enjoy the freedom to roam in our own country and beyond. Thanks to our reader Allison Scates for the tip! Tag us on Facebook if you see any other folks you’d like us to feature and check back here everyday for more little known stories!

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor