The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake and countless other Black lives before them have reignited nationwide protests calling for an end to police brutality and divestment from police with a reinvestment into disenfranchised communities and community safety programs better equipped and trained to deal with specific transgressions. In memory of Black individuals who have been killed at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, 22-year-old Raequan Wilson, a Minneapolis local, rode 846 miles, tracking 84.6 miles per day, between August 1 - 10. Each daily ride was dedicated to a Black person killed by police in Minnesota during the last two decades. The 10 days of athletic activism was also a part of Wilson’s campaign #IRide4Them, where he encourages bicyclists from across the nation to funnel their passion for the outdoors toward fighting racism. “The eight hundred and forty-six miles I rode is a demand for the right of the Black community to live FREE and FEARLESS,” Wilson wrote on his Instagram page. The number 846 stems from the death of George Floyd on May 25, as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. “This ride is not only for the fallen in our community; it is for the communities we live in now and for future communities,” Wilson added. Additionally, Wilson started a GoFundMe page to raise money to provide helmets and bike lights for people in need. A portion of the proceeds will also be used to fund a monthly 84.6-mile bike ride to honor Black victims of police brutality. More than $18,000 has already been raised and you can still donate by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/d5m9f5-iride4them. Inspired by Wilson, this ride looks to memorialize Black lives unjustly taken and elevate Black businesses in two historically redlined and disenfranchised districts in Denver (https://bit.ly/31TeUiA).
This ride starts at the Elijah McClain Memorial mural in Aurora, Colorado. On August 24, while on his way home from picking up an iced tea from a convenience store, McClain, a 23-year-old Black massage therapist and Aurora local, died after being confronted and subsequently brutally assaulted by police and sedated by paramedics. The three officers involved in his death were cleared of all charges and (as of June 26, 2020) continue to work in a non-enforcement capacity for the Aurora Police Department. McClain’s death sparked fury in Colorado and across the world and has inspired dozens of protests against police brutality. From the mural the route heads west, first passing the Black American West Museum — a historical center focused on “promoting an understanding of the role that African Americans played in the settlement and growth of the western United States through its collections, programs and exhibits.”
The route then travels through three parks named after iconic Black Americans — Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Frederick Douglass and Madame C.J. Walker — before rounding back onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and passing by George Morrison Sr. Park.
As the ride begins to turn northeast onto Welton Street and back into Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood, be sure to stop by TeaLee’s Teahouse & Bookstore. This Black-owned teahouse offers guests a safe, congenial and relaxed space where one can enjoy a wide selection of teas alongside a variety of books, chocolate and select sundries.
Two blocks away is the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. This branch of the Denver Public Library serves the Five Points neighborhood and is a research library with collections focusing on the history of African Americans in Denver and the American West. Rounding the intersection of 26th St., Glenarm Pl. and N. Washington St. is the Stiles African American Center. This museum celebrates the positive contributions made by African Americans through guided tours, cultural exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia.
Just a block away is Coffee at the Point, a local Black-owned, award-winning coffee shop. With the slogan, “Community Inspired, Community Driven,” this cafe offers guests a relaxing space to work, hang out or catch up with friends over a variety of coffee, tea, beer, wine, gelato, sandwiches and more. North of the coffeehouse is the Welton St. Cafe — a famous Black-owned soul food joint visited and enjoyed by Food Network star Guy Fieri!
Heading down E. 25th Ave., the route rolls by Whittier Cafe, a Black-owned, artsy coffee shop with a lending library and a cozy patio serving espresso-based drinks and cafe fare.
Further along the ride you’ll hit two more Black-owned foodie spots: Sweet Sweetz Ice Cream and Desserts and Genna Rae Wings & More.
As the ride rolls around its southernmost point, you’ll pass Cleo Parker Robinson Dance — a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit organization founded in 1970. Through their four pillars of Ensemble, Academy, Theatre and Education, they work to create “an oasis where a varied population — by gender, race, age and ethnicity — gather to study and appreciate a modern, cross-cultural approach to creative community development.” The final stretch of the route travels by two Black-owned fashion boutiques — Be A Good Person and MAM Couture — before finishing back at the Elijah McClain Memorial Mural. From its humble beginnings in the 1890s, providing freedom and autonomy for groups typically excluded on the basis of gender, class and race, to the medics and mobile barricades of today working to protect and assist Black Lives Matter protesters, the bike has long been a powerful tool for social revolutions. As an organization working with community and city leaders across the nation to incorporate mobility equity into safe streets planning, PeopleForBikes is committed to supporting and amplifying both people and organizations working to create a more equitable and inclusive world. We believe that when people ride bikes, great things happen. Isaac Novak PeopleForBikes Content + Design Coordinator