Photography: Black MCs

Black Harlem MC 1959

It’s hard to image that Black Motorcycle Clubs even existed in the 50’s and 60’s. Most sprung up in answer to the growing civil rights movement, and like most gangs, relied on safety in numbers. The LA MCs The Chosen Few and The East Bay Dragons were probably the East Coast’s most infamous. The Dragons formed in ’59 – about the same time as the Hells Angels, and were strictly an all black club. The Chosen Few were a bit more lenient – forming multi-racial chapters along the coast – as long as you were an outlaw you were welcome in The Chosen Few.   Find out more in Soul on Bikes by Dragons founder Tobie Gene Livingston

The East Bay Dragons

The Chosen Few

The Chosen Few


"Indianapolis" Robert Frank

Bessie Stringfield

Bessie Stringfield

In the 1930s and 1940s Bessie made eight long-distance, solo rides across the United States. Speaking to a reporter, she dismissed the idea that “nice girls didn’t ride motorcycles in those days.” She was also seemingly fearless about riding through the Deep South when racial prejudice was a tangible threat.

In 2002, she was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Bessie, or BB as she was known among friends, described over 60 years of motorcycling: “I was somethin’! What I did was fun and I loved it.”

Bessie Stringfield

Thanks to the Selvedge Yard (

Posted on June 10, 2011, in Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. This is an awesome blog article! I really love all of the photos. It’s sad to say, but I had no idea there were black motorcycle clubs, especially back in the day. But thank you for posting this, and inspiring me to do more research on this very interesting culture.

  2. Fantastic photos!!!! I collect vintage photos of African-Americans, and these are truly vintage in more ways than one. I love them!

  3. Elaine Williams

    Love thise pics. The one at the very top is adorable, almost innocent.

  4. The photos are awesome. I too was not aware that there were Black motorcycle clubs in the early 20th century.

  5. Fabulous, informative, unusual, inspiring and everything else wonderful. From the UK to the US with love and thanks.

  6. Where can I get the rights to these photos? In particularly the top photo- I am interested in using them for a poster design. Do you know the name of the photographer? If you’re unsure- could you tell me where you acquired these photos? Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: