Hundreds gather in East Austin for annual Black History Bike Ride

One week before Juneteenth, hundreds of people on their bikes gathered in East Austin on Sunday morning to celebrate the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans a little early.

"In my opinion, why not celebrate Juneteenth the weekend before?," said Talib Abdullahi, founder of the Black History Bike Ride.

This was the third annual Black History Bike Ride, an 8.46 historical bike tour of Black Central East Austin.

"We're going to basically focus on doing a deep dive and understanding some different historical facts relating to black history," said Abdullahi.

The idea for this bike ride came to fruition two years ago by Abdullahi after seeing the social justice movement of 2020 resulting from the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He says the goal was to have a few of his friends join him in a bike ride to discover more of Black Austin's history, but that turned into 400 other cyclists joining him.

"I thought, ‘hey, we should just take all these people and get them on bikes and start using all that energy that was out there in the summer 2020 to really start educating ourselves about local history’ because I feel like local black history in Austin is not discussed enough," said Abdullahi.

Now at the third annual Black History Ride, hundreds of people still come out to embark in the ride. The 8.46-mile bike ride started at the French Legation Historic Site, one of the earliest sites where enslaved people called home in Central Texas. The ride then continued with stops at the Barbara Jordan Statue at UT Austin, the Paramount Theater, the Neill-Cochran House, and Downs-Mabson Field. 

"We take people directly to the locations where history happens. And we hope that by doing that on a bike, we're really able to help foster a true connection and awareness of that history. Each spot holds a wealth of different, amazing stories that relate back to different individuals," said Abdullahi.

Even though Sunday was one of the hottest days of the week, that did not stop hundreds of cyclists from embarking on the Black History Bike Ride.

"We have to really, you know, honor the fact that when all of our ancestors were freed from slavery, it was also hot. It was June back then, so that's why we keep the tradition on this date," said Abdullahi.