Biker Dad: Can motorcycles help us bridge the racial divide? - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Biker Dad: Can motorcycles help us bridge the racial divide?

(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5 Assistant News Director Chris Best) (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5 Assistant News Director Chris Best)

What's been going on around the nation recently has centered much on racial strife, the racial divide, violence caused by our differences. But there have also been wonderful moments where people of different races and backgrounds have come together to stand against hate and violence.

The latter is the idea behind a big event coming to Memphis. It's a motorcycle event, but it's organizers hope its reach will go far behind those who love to have the breeze on their knees and the wind in their hair.

The event is Memphis Bike Fest, 2015. It's organized by the non-profit Bikers and Social Clubs 4 Change. Bike Fest director Tom Lewis says, "Bikers and Social Clubs 4 Change has its roots in the black biker community and for the last few years has been working to diversify into the white bikers too. What we do is go into some of the poorest neighborhoods in Memphis and work with the at-risk youth." The group rides in on motorcycles to those neighborhoods, having cookouts, giving bicycles away to kids and much more. 

Biker and Social Clubs 4 Change member Clark "Preacher" Chambers said the organization helps "stop the black on black crime, teen pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy and the spread of HIV. We've been doing that since 2009 and now we're in phase two of that operation, building safe houses. Our safe houses are an opportunity for people to make better choices and stick to them." 

All the proceeds from Memphis Bike Fest will go to help the non-profit continue its mission and build those safe houses in town. The Bike Fest will begin on Wednesday night, during Bike Night on Beale and parade to Tiger Lane where bikers will camp out for 5 days. 

The event will be full of live music, headlined by the 70s funk band WAR. 

"We've got some great music, fun games and competitions. We're giving away either a motorcycle cruiser or a 3-wheeled Spyder," said Lewis. Last year the event drew 3,000 people. This year the goal is 10,000. "Frankly a little nervous it could be quite a bit more," Lewis added.

No matter what happens at the event, the organization said it's already made one big change we can all get behind.

"One of the really sidebar things that I'm seeing is that the black bikers and the white bikers are really coming together on this. For a while I was kind of the token white guy, but I'm not anymore," Lewis explained. "I think it could be an example, and kind of a fuse for Memphis in a really good way to bring people together. Because, what happens with those youth in those dangerous neighborhoods, that affects me living in my comfortable little house in East Memphis. Motorcycles, that's a common thing everybody loves.We don't have to have much debate about that, except which bike is fastest." 

And "Preacher" added an "Amen" to that, "Well, everybody loves motorcycles, there's always an impact. The kids are crazy about motorcycles."

Memphis Bike Fest is June 22-26, 2015 at the Liberty Bowl. 

For more info, click here

Be careful out there, and please follow me on social media.

Twitter: @WMChrisBest

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Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four, He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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