If you love riding or learning about motorcycles, you should know who the “Motorcycle Queen of Miami” is!
It was Bessie Stringfield, a motorcyclist who admirably became the first African American woman to ride a motorcycle solo across the United States during World War II.
The details of Bessie’s childhood and upbringing are still mysterious to scholars, but she was born around 1911 and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.
Many believe she was born in Jamaica and later adopted; others say her parents raised her in North Carolina.
Bessie was gifted her first motorcycle at the age of 16. It was a 1928 Indian Scout, and she took that bike on a solo adventure when she was 19 in 1930.
She had no specific plan for where she wanted to go but was desperate to ride, so she’d flip a coin onto a map of America and go wherever it landed.
One of the most fascinating parts about Bessie’s journeys on motorcycles was how she’d ride through southern states during the Jim Crow era. She’d face extreme racism and, at times, was chased down the road by angry mobs of white people.
Yet, she kept riding and kept wowing people with her skills.
Bessie would also perform stunts on her motorcycle at fairs and carnivals. In the early 1940s, Bessie served as a civilian motorcycle dispatch rider for the U.S. Army.