There is conflicting information about the early life of Bessie B. Stringfield. Still, it is believed that she was born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica to an interracial couple and immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, at an early age with her family. Her parents sadly died of smallpox, and an Irish woman adopted her. At the age of 16, she asked her adoptive mother for a motorcycle and taught herself to ride a 1928 Indian Scout. Then at age 19, she embarked on a journey to ride her bike across the United States solo.
Stringfield went on to do seven other long-distance solo rides across the United States, earning money from performing motorcycle stunts in carnival shows. Beyond her travels within the United States during the 1930s and 1940s, she later rode in Europe, Brazil, and Haiti.
A trailblazer in the early days of motorcycling, Stringfield became known as the Motorcycle Queen of Miami; Stringfield was honored in 1990 by the American Motorcyclist Association’s (AMA) inaugural exhibit. She was also inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002.
- Stewart, Nikita. 2018. “Overlooked No More: Bessie B. Stringfield, the ‘Motorcycle Queen of Miami,” The New York Times.
- Associate, American Motorcyclist. 1993. “Motorcycling Pioneer Bessie Stringfield passes away,” American Motorcyclist.
- “Black Harley Davidson Riders Series Presents: Bessie Stringfield The “Motorcycling Queen Of Miami,” Sessions With SEON, YouTube video, 3:52, February 19, 2020.