A Ripple of Thunder! Black Motorcyclists in America is a series about street and road culture. From 1984 to 1987 writer Adolph Dupree and I as photographer documented Black motorcycle clubs throughout the Rochester, Buffalo, and regional area. After interviewing national clubs, we traveled by invitation to Detroit, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio documenting these clubs.
Over the course of our documentation we made the acquaintance of groups like the Afro-Dogs, the Falcons, the O’Mens, Sons of Zodiac, Buffalo Riders, Naptown Riders, Buffalo Soldiers, Candy Girls, Ebony Cruisers, El Amigos, Ladies of Elegance, Heavy Metal, and Carolina Drifters. It was rare, but the Sunset Riders from Rochester had both a male and female chapter.
Groups like the Afro-Dogs wore popularized 1980s Jheri curls underneath their heavily padded motorcycle helmets. They were a popular motorcycle club with national and regional chapters across America. In some ways the motorcycle clubs could be compared to secret societies, sororities, and fraternities. Motorcycle clubs were organized with a presidential structure and incoming members had to pledge to gain membership. The ultimate experience with motorcycle clubs was during the summer season—a time to jump on your “hog” and hit the dusty road to “Anytown, USA.”