A couple of weeks ago, I had the day off from a grueling past couple of weeks and was excited about traveling to Milwaukee, WI to go to the Harley Davidson Museum to see the display of Bessie Stringfield. It's less than a 2 hour drive from my home and I was excited because it was a beautiful day to make that trip.
Bessie Stringfield, “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami,” has traveled over the United States riding her motorcycle. Adopted by white parents, she got her first motorcycle when she was a teenager. She owned a total of 24 blue Harley Davidsons. This rebel rode during the Jim Crow era and the hatred and fear she experienced where at times she had to sleep on her motorcycle because hotels would not allow blacks to lodge.
While driving to Milwaukee, I was listening to videos about the history of Ms. Stringfield for my anticipation to the museum. When I arrived at the museum, before asking an employees where the display was, I decided to walk around first to see if I will find it on my own. I saw several motorcycles, the engine room, design lab and the Evel Knievel exhibit.
When I finished walking around the museum, I decided to ask an employee where the Bessie Stringfield display, because sometimes when I walk around looking for something I always pass by it.
I approached a Harley Davidson employee and asked him where was the Bessie Stringfield display. When he started to come up with something to say to me, I immediately knew where this conversation was going. He told me that the display was gone a couple of years ago. I told him, that was not true. Back in 2018, a black female motorcycle club came to the museum and took a picture of the display. He then told me that he didn't know why the display was taken down. I was very upset because walking around I didn’t see any displays of African Americans.
Before I left, I walked around again to see how many white female motorcyclists that had a display. When I saw about 4-5 displays, I didn't need to walk around the rest of the museum.
When I got home, I did a Facebook Live to tell my followers about my dismay about the disappearance of the Bessie Coleman's display. I also reached out to a black female motorcyclist clubs to see if something can be done to get Bessie Stringfield a PERMANENT display at the Harley Davidson Museum.
I emailed Harley Davidson and its been a couple of weeks and have not received a response.
I recommend reading a short book about the amazing story of Bessie Stringfield. She deserves a presence in the museum.
I will continue to contact Harley Davidson and hopefully I can work with them to get a permanent display of Bessie Stringfield. She is deserving of one.