This Black History Month, we take a look back at our flagship group ride in 2022: Soul on Wheels. Dozens of riders convened in Roxbury for a group ride led by Bluebikes’ Ride Curator James Pierre. Read on to learn more about this unique ride experience that celebrates Black Bike Joy in one of Boston’s historic neighborhoods.
What is Soul on Wheels
Soul on Wheels is a group ride specifically focused on celebration and visibility on bikes in the Black community. Originally conceived of as a formal attire event specifically for Black men in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the event has grown to include riders of color of all ages, genders, and various backgrounds.
Our Host: National Center for Afro-American Arts (NCAAA)
The National Center for Afro-American Arts was incorporated in 1986. It was originally conceived of by Elma Lewis in Chicago and was originally known as the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts. In 1969 The NCAAA Museum opened on the Franklin Park Site that hosted Soul on Wheels. The Museum has hosted over 3000 exhibits during it’s existence. Learn more about NCAAA History
Dr. Edmund Barry Gaither – Our host for the day, and an important ongoing partner for Soul on Wheels, Dr Gaither has been Director and Curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), and Special Consultant at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston since 1969. He developed the NCAAA Museum from a concept to an institution over a thirty-two year history of exhibitions celebrating the visual arts heritage of black people worldwide. Learn more about his contribution to Black culture here.
The NCAAA lawn had been completely transformed by an art installation curated by former Boston Artist in Residence and Executive Director of Creative Strategic Partnerships for SPOKEArts, L’Merchie Frazier. A pillar of the Boston arts community, Mrs Frazier was recently involved in the reaveal of Boston’s newest homage to Dr Martin Luther King, The Embrace. The installation that was created for Soul on Wheels drew on the themes that the ride celebrates: agency, resiliency, and history. Learn more about her work and history here.
The post ride speaking portion consisted not only of inspiring words from Dr Giather and Mrs. Fraizer, but also levity and fun courtesy of Jeff “The Professor” Rogers of Hella Black Trivia. Guests of the ride were challenged to showcase their expertise on a range of topics pertinent to the Black community while they relaxed and partook of the post ride catering.
The final speaker for the day was Rodnell Collins – Owner of the Malcom X- Ella Little Collins House and nephew of Malcom X. Mr. Collins spoke about the house and it’s designation as a national landmark, bringing history and context to the sites that riders had just seen along the route.
James Pierre: Bluebikes Ride Curator
Special thanks to Soul on Wheels ride organizer James Adius Pierre. James is an artist and founder of the Adius Arts Initiative and a luminary with the Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum. He is currently curating an exhibit on the history of the game Spades in Black culture.
Fun had by all
Several community groups attended the ride including riders from Bikes Not Bombs and Bike Life 508 (all the way from Worcester). Bluebikes was there to hand out fun swag to all participants and of course to provide bikes for those that needed them. The event was catered by the great chefs at Everybody Gotta Eat, and everybody certainly did. We look forward to