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Bessie Stringfield: Motorcyclist

The award bestowed by the American Motorcyclist Association for ‘Superior Achievement by a Female Motorcyclist’ is named in Bessie Stringfield’s honor. She was sixteen when she learned to ride and she never looked back, becoming the first African-American woman to ride across the United States on her own. Later, she’d complete the cross-country journey several more times.

Stories are told of how she won a flat track race after disguising herself as a man. When her identity was revealed, race promoters withheld the prize money. While she encountered racism in her travels, it didn’t slow her down. “If you had black skin you couldn’t get a place to stay,” she said. “I knew the Lord would take care of me and He did. If I found black folks, I’d stay with them. If not, I’d sleep at filling stations on my motorcycle.”

Toward the end of her 60+ years of riding, Bessie struggled with symptoms caused by an enlarged heart. “Years ago the doctor wanted to stop me from riding. I told him if I don’t ride, I won’t live long. And so I never did quit.”

She was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002. Read more about Bessie Stringfield at the AMA Motorcycle Museum’s Hall of Fame website.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. That’s the first time I have seen the story of this woman! every one should learn to ride, I started on mini bike’s, today a 600rr.plan to start grandkids soon! Love to ride!!!

  2. She is a woman I have great respect/admiration!
    I really enjoy riding with the aid of her inspiring life story!!
    Ride on with your BAD selves sistahs!!!

  3. She was raised by an Irish lady who got bought her first motorcycle for her … God bless them both ,, a true legend!

  4. l have old pictures of Bessie Springfield, Bessie was a family member of mind My oldest son is a Stringfield, also others as well..

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