This past weekend, hundreds of cyclists took to the streets for a group ride in Portland. Now, a swarm of bicycles on the road is nothing unusual for this bike-friendly city. What made this ride unique was that it was for Black, Indigenous and people of color only.
And in a city that's known as the whitest metropolitan area in the nation, hundreds of Black and brown bodies on bicycles really is a sight to see.
The Black Liberation Ride, which celebrated year five on Friday, is an annual, all-ages community bike ride for people of color. It’s held on or around Juneteenth and the route tours through Northeast Portland, in one of the city’s historically Black neighborhoods.
This year it saw a surge of interest, thanks in large part to the Black Lives Matter movement. But organizers of this ride are quick to point out that this event is not a resistance ride.
“This ride is for Black joy,” said co-organizer Jené Etheridge. “It's not for any other reason than for us to take space and create community on our bikes.”
Although the event was largely upbeat and festive, it was not without incident. The organizers of the event said two ride volunteers were victims of two separate hit-and-runs. There were no serious injuries, but the volunteers' bicycles were severely damaged. The Portland Police Bureau did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
OPB host and reporter Tiffany Camhi attended the Black Liberation Ride this year. Hear voices from the ride in the audio postcard above and scroll through to see more from the ride.
Jené Etheridge, 29, Black Liberation Ride co-organizer
“If you live day to day and never see people that look like you, it takes a toll. To have this moment, [to] see a flood of faces that reflect you makes a really big impact on your self-care and your healing.”
Stephen Marea, 34, Black Liberation Ride co-organizer
“The [ride] for me last year was something that helped me through a lot of difficult times. I wanted to make sure it happened this year because I want people to have a positive memory to hold onto.”
Vanessa Crawley, 28, Black rider
“A person who has a bike in Portland is easily stereotyped as a white hipster person. And that's not accurate. It's really great to see a whole population of people of color who also bike. [It] makes me feel more comfortable doing it.”
Miguel Angel Simon, 27, Hispanic rider
“You see, diverse riders every so often, but you don't get a specific ride for people of color, our Black community. I love the idea of it. I love to see the community come together and see the [people of color riders] throughout the city in one area.”
Alexandria-Sasha Gilbert, 23, Black rider
“I’m here to be another body out in the street, reminding folks that Black Lives Matter. We are on the road, too. Look out for us. Support us.”
Joshua Thomas, 28, Black rider
“What I hope to get out of it, really, is just the sense of being in solidarity with my people and being a part of this shared humanity in this moment. We’re creating history together and contributing to this larger movement to ensure a more just future for all of us.”