Harley-Davidson turns 110
Hollywood director videotapes his 500-mile motorcycle ride to celebrate Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary
MILWAUKEE — F. Gary Gray, who has directed such box-office hits as “Friday,” “Set it Off” and “Law Abiding Citizen,” combines his two passions of motorcycling and making movies in a documentary that follows his journey riding his custom Harley-Davidson.
In the video, Gray describes riding his Harley-Davidson as a form of meditation. “When I’m not working, I’m riding.” he said.
Joining Gray on the 500-mile ride from Atlanta, Ga., to one of the largest annual gatherings of African American bikers in Daytona Beach, Fla., were three of his Harley-riding friends, including actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner, best known for his role as Theo Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”
This is part Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration, where the company has enlisted riders from around the world to take a single leather jacket — the Freedom Jacket — on an adventure and to share their stories online.
The Freedom Jacket will pass from rider to rider as it travels the globe and will return to Milwaukee for a final celebration and display at the Harley-Davidson Museum Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.
“The Freedom Jacket symbolizes the brotherhood between riders.” said Gray. “Adding a patch honoring the Iron Elite represents Harley’s long history with African American riders; whether you’re in a group or a single rider, we all have this unspoken bond.”
Since the company’s founding in 1903, African Americans have had a defining impact on Harley-Davidson’s brand and motorcycling culture.
This includes figures like William B. Johnson, the first African American licensed by the American Motorcycle Association to race, as well as the first African American to own a Harley-Davidson dealership; Bessie Stringfield, the first Black woman to ride solo cross country; and Benny Hardy, the custom bike builder who created the Captain America motorcycle for the movie “Easy Rider.”
For more information or to watch the video, visit www. h-d.com/ironelite