Gullah Geechee Heritage bicycle ride stops in Brunswick, St. Marys – Paat Ta Freedum Tour

Gullah Geechee Heritage bicycle ride stops in Brunswick, St. Marys, headed for St. Augustine | jacksonville.com
BRUNSWICK | A group of young bicyclists pedaled down U.S. 17 Tuesday for a lunch stop on a 550-mile tour from Durham, N.C., to St. Augustine having taken in Gullah Geechee heritage stops along the way.But for all the culture and history, the ride dominates the talk the way sweat dominates the riding clothes as the sun beats down and the thermometer crosses 90 degrees before noon.

Meet Youth Cyclists – Micco, Keair, Camilo, Ree Ree, Abeo – Da Paat Ta Freedum Tour

Micco

Micco is formerly from

Chapel Hill, NC but now lives in Bloomington, Indiana and attends Bloomington North High School. He’s a returning youth cyclist. He cycled the King 2 King route from Atlanta, GA to Washington, DC in 2014. Like most boys he likes basketball, is very good at it and practices frequently. His favorite basketball player is Dirk Nowitzki
Micco believes that this type of cycling challenges you mentally and can help prepare you for whatever happens to come your way in the future, whether it is good or bad. He says honestly that the trip is difficult, but he’s still a member of Spoke’n Revolutions because the things that are being learned on these tours are very interesting.
He says, “this is a unique opportunity to get a great experience because it allows you to realize that you can do more than you thought you ever could do”.

 

Keair  

Keair (Key-Air) is one of our youngest participants on the Gullah Geechee Paat Ta Freedom tour and is from Dublin, GA. Keair loves the adventures and the history on these tours. I first met him last year on the King 2 King tour linking the King Historic site in Atlanta to the King Memorial in Washington, DC. He’s a very strong cyclist for his age and has no trouble keeping up with the “big” folks.

Keair loves these cross country tours because he gets to travel to different places that he’s never been. Keair rides for the BRAG Dream Team when they do the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia but didn’t get to participate this year so that another youth from his town could. That allowed him to ride with us cross country a second year in a row. He enjoys making friends, having great experiences and opportunity to meet new people. He likes riding up front with the fast group of cyclist.

He is a member of OCMA – Occonnee Community Mentoring Association – with coach Chris Johnson – he rides bikes, practices oratorical speaking and this year he took first place. Keair comes from a large family with 3 sisters and 4 brothers.

Camilo

Camilo is a member of Spoke’n Revolutions and is a junior from East Chapel Hill High in NC. He’s worked at Waffle House for the last year and plays football and rugbee. Camilo is a National Achievers Society member. He’s really enjoying the tour, and it is getting easier and he’s able to show his strengths by taking a leadership role during the rides by “pulling” other members of the team when we encounter headwinds.

Camilo is here because he wants to explore and get out to the state of NC – the main reason is that his best friend, Fernando, is a senior member and he wanted to make this trip special for him by being here with him. When Fernando moves on Camilo wants to take over his leadership role. He is confident that when he applies himself he is able to accomplish anything

 

Ree Ree

Ree Ree is a Jack of All Trades in her returning role as a senior member of Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Cycling. She lives in Chapel Hill and attends Chapel Hill High School. When she’s not busy cycling she fills her time with all sorts of activities like:

  • B’Hai youth group; children class teacher;
  • youth collaborative group at the Transplanting Traditions’ Community farm
  • Being a Frank Gallery artist
  • Being a youth Board Member of Triangle Bikeworks
  • President of the Refugee Community Partnershipfeels SnR is fun and always has new adventures and learning about other cultures and history

 

 

Abeo  

Abeo said that she came on this tour because she was asked and thought it couldn’t be as bad as she thought it would be (( She thinks the tour is fun, she likes it and thinks it’s going well. She has also taken notice to the differences in the quality of bikes that we are touring with. The BRAG Dream Team loaned her a Trek touring bike and it was an exceptional, and highly outstanding bike compared to her 20 yr old Bianchi. Abeo believes that it’s not just about riding bikes but the opportunity to acquire new experiences and it definitely beats staying at home for the summer. During the school year when she’s not cycling she’s a soccer player, as well.

Originally from GA she now lives in Chapel Hill, NC when not at school she enjoys riding her bike, hanging out with friend and watching a little TV. She feels what’s special about the tour is meeting new people in the regions she travels and meeting other youth cyclists and forming new friendships.

 

 

Keep in mind, to keep programs like this and others coming out of Triangle Bikeworks well into the future we need contributions from people like you who believe in the beauty of youth, opportunity and exploration. Please share and make a contribution to their IndieGoGo Campaign

Meet Youth Cyclist Joanna – Paat Ta Freedum Tour

Ride Leader, Joanna
Joanna

was born and currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC and is a dedicated youth cyclist since her first tour. Since her sisters were original members of Spoke’n Revolutions she didn’t think “it was her thing” and didn’t want to join. After her first tour cycling the Mississippi River Valley Trail from New Orleans, LA to St. Louis, MO retracing the path that the great Abraham Lincoln took to sell his goods (rafting down river and walking back home) she has been hooked on Culture, History and Cycling. Now she sits in a leadership position in Spoke’n Revolutions and is a Board Member for the parent organization Triangle Bikeworks.

Visiting the spaces where history was made isn’t the only thing this heavily connected young lady is involved in. She prides herself in being a member of SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere), National Honors Society, Wildcat Ambassador for East Chapel Hill High, a member of the Youth Leadership Initiative and Blue Ribbon. She does volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, as well. Her favorite color is green and her favorite TV show when she’s home is One Tree Hill because it’s based in NC.

Joanna at sunset

To support Joanna and other youth like her please checkout the kid’s IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to fund all of Triangle Bikeworks click here.

Paat Ta Freedum – Mother Emanuel AME Church

Mother Emanuel AME Church
Mother Emanuel AME Church

Two days ago the youth visited Mother Emanuel AME Church. We were having them meet a person who was instrumental in my decision to cycle the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor back in November. The man is Dr. Herman Blake. As usual it was a long cycling day and we had a service project at Wings for Kids. A great nonprofit started by Ginney Deerin to give youth the tools to deal with life by using their “emotional intelligence” which is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate one’s emotions.

After the service project the youth attended a gathering at Mother Emanuel AME Church, which is now the famous site of the horrific slaughter by an individual groomed to hate because racism is never really and truthfully dealt with in this country and is allowed to fester. It was a somber moment and the youth took pictures to lock in the memory of their experience. But cross country touring with youth is a fast pace business and today was no different. We cycled to the church, I was being interviewed, the youth were being introduced to a great man that I highly respect who had very moving words for them and, truthfully, some needed bathroom breaks and to eat lunch because we had just cycled over the Ravenel Bridge to get into downtown Charleston, SC. Add the fact that we were cycling to camp outside of town during the height of rush hour which had to be very tightly controlled and coordinated. So, there was no opportunity for them to process what had just happened.

Dr. J Herman Blake, Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission
Dr. J Herman Blake, Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission

So, let me say to all that tonight, Friday July 17, 2015, was very special as we gathered as a team for a normal dinner out and camaraderie. Nothing special, we just went to get a late bite to eat at Sonic after an impromptu photo shoot as the sun was going down.

Toward the end I asked a simple question of a couple of the teens about how they felt after hearing you speak and leaving Mother Emanuel AME. It started light as when the first person lightly stated that her journal entry was “in her head” and another youth was speechless. To the youth who was speechless we gave finger snaps in a light hearted way to say the what he “didn’t” say was profound.

A Simple Dinner
A simple dinner and a sharing moment

Then I made my way around the table and asked each youth there to express how they felt. It was a very powerful sharing moment as they had not the opportunity before this evening to express themselves and reflect on what they had witnessed. Our pace is fast and it is filled with cycling, eating, sleeping and cycling more. Miles upon miles processing but not expressing to one another what they had experienced. It was tonight, after a week in each other’s company that they felt safe enough to trust and bare their feelings and I stood back and let the moment happen only speaking to elucidate a point made or to ask the next person the very same question: “How did you feel as you left the grounds of Mother Emanuel AME?”

Some shared their view of the senselessness of the act, others how wrong it was for them to welcome him and he be the one who murdered them, others spoke of how they felt emotionally and was moved to tears of sorrow. Some were moved to write their names on the wall to mark that they want to be included in the company of people who stand against displays of hate and to say that this shall never happen again.

It was a great evening that allowed the kids to decompress and trust one another as they’ve trusted each other on the roads. Thank you Dr. Blake for
your kind words that really made an impact on them.

I asked that they record their experience in their personal journals in order to crystalized and narrow their thoughts and if they cared to, share
the entry with me so that others can experience the moment through their eyes. I hope that they will.

When it felt that it was time to end (10:40pm) I joked and said that this seemed like a perfect reason to have an “all hands in” moment as we do
every morning with a word for the day. The kids were adamant that we do so. The word for this moment was family.

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