Freedom Riding on a Harley: The 1950s all-Black Biker Gang


17th Jul, 2013

East Bay Dragons

While Rosa Parks took her historic bus ride, and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton and the Black Panthers stood bravely for equal rights, the East Bay Dragons MC risked life and limb during days when a black man riding a Harley chopper was a revolutionary act.”

The East Bay Dragons of Oakland, California was founded in the 1950s as a car club under the leadership of Tobie Gene Levingston,  an associate of Sonny Barger, the founding member of the California Hells Angels, who’s main goal was to keep his younger brothers and friends occupied and out of trouble. In 1959, the club switched to Harleys and Choppers to become an ‘outlaw’ motorcycle club, The East Bay Dragons MC, one of the first of its kind.

On two wheels, the all-black, all-Harley, all-chopper group of motorcyclists haven’t exactly had an easy ride over the decades, encountering their fair share of violence, rivalry and racial tensions on what they call the ‘battlegrounds of urban America’.

“East Bay Dragons have secured their place as modern urban folk heroes alongside the Hell’s Angels, the Oakland Raiders, and the Black Panthers … Their legacy is an untold portion of African-American history.”

Apparently they now also enjoy watching Sons of Anarchy at their clubhouse!

I went snooping through their club’s photo albums on their website and found some pretty rad images…

East Bay Dragons

East Bay Dragons

East Bay Dragons

East Bay Dragons

Group - East Bay Dragons

East Bay Dragons

Purple Chopper - East Bay Dragons

Bags - East Bay Dragons

Jacket Back - East Bay Dragons

Empty Bikes - East Bay Dragons

Group With Trophy - East Bay Dragons

The story of the East Bay Dragons has now been told in a book co-written by founder Tobie Gene Levingston, called Soul on Bikes.

Images (c) East Bay Dragons




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