Saturday: ‘Celebration of Life’ Ride Aims to Bring Black Men Together on Bikes

Black men and other men of color are being invited to reflect, mourn, and heal together in a “Celebration of Life” bike ride through Roxbury this Saturday.

Organizer James Adius Pierre, a lifelong Cambridge resident, says that the ride is inspired by the summer’s unrest and the August 28 anniversary of the March on Washington.

“I was watching the news a little over a month ago, feeling helpless and angry, and I kind of snapped and put this plan in motion,” Pierre said in a phone conversation Friday morning. “I wanted to do something to show a presence… I made this ride specifically for men, because I wanted to be able to provide that space and let men be vulnerable with each other this year. Men feel like they have to be tough or strong – but you have to allow yourself some space and express yourself.”

Pierre led a similar ride last November, under different circumstances. “The motivation (last year) was just having a group of friends as adults riding through the city but with a fashion component,” said Pierre. “Most of the men I took off with hadn’t been on a bike since their teens. It was in November, it was cold, but near the beginning of the ride, we’re on Longfellow Bridge, I turn around and see 30 men on bikes, and everybody had a big smile on their face.

“In adult culture, there’s certain things people say they won’t do, whether it’s riding public transport, riding a bike, or walking or jogging. These men had been on that bridge in cars hundreds of times, but to be on a bike is a whole other experience.”

For Saturday’s Celebration of Life ride, Pierre is encouraging participants to wear black suits, like the civil rights marchers of the 1960s, and as a symbol of mourning for the lives lost this year.

The ride will start at noon from the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) at 300 Walnut Avenue in Roxbury. Bluebikes will be provided for participants who need a bike. The ride will proceed through neighborhood streets for 5 to 6 to end with a repast at Bartlett Yard, 2565 Washington Street (the venue is outdoors and will allow for safe physical distancing).

Participants are encourage to register in advance with Eventbrite.

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