ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - This Memorial Day weekendBaron Hilliard is on a journey of discovery. He’s riding a bicycle across the country to learn more about African American history and culture.
Growing up, Hilliard says his knowledge of black history was limited to mainstream history like stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
"You never get the stories about the everyday people that are doing things in our community," said Hilliard.
To learn more, most people would just read a book or go online, but Hilliard had another idea.
"I figured I’d get out on the road and do my own little personal journey," he said.
For one year he'll ride across the country on a bike, exploring African American businesses, neighborhoods and history, one community at a time.
He’s started in February and so far he's travelled down the east coast stopping in places like Philadelphia,Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
It was a two hour bike ride from Chesapeake, Virginia to here in Eastern North Carolina. Hilliard spent about ten days here visiting family and learning about African American history.
His most memorable experience in the East is a small town near Tarboro called Princeville.
“It’s the oldest African American chartered town that was governed by African Americans in the United States," said Hilliard. “When I got there, it just felt like home.”
Hilliard travels light, with only two bags filled with clothes, supplies for his bike and his laptop.
"I use Google maps,” he said. “If you click on the bike icon it'll give you a bike route and it takes you through some of the safer streets."
He uses social media to communicate with family, friends and supporters.
"I put it out on Facebook that I’m going to be in that area and you'd be amazed at how many people respond offering me a place to sleep a place to eat," Hilliard said.
Hilliard says he is inspired by the Freedom Riders of the 1960’s.
“Their journey and how they were willing to die so African Americans could have a chance to sit wherever they would like on a bus or eat at the same counter as others, they made it possible for me to ride my bike through the south,” said Hilliard.
Hilliard’s next stop is Raleigh. That’s a six hour bike ride from Rocky Mount. To keep up with his journey you can visit his website http://www.journeythrublackamerica.com
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C.- Baron Hillard is making the journey of a lifetime. He is taking on a 365-day bike journey though Black America to celebrate African American history, culture and community.
Coming up tonight at 6… Our Sasha Horne is meeting up with Baron as he stops here in the east.
He describes why he is taking this journey on his website…
“This is my personal attempt to start a dialogue that results in the black community coming together to make a better future for ourselves. The black community is facing a crisis of epidemic proportion. Despite the “progress” we have seemingly made over the years, marked by the election of the first black man as President of the United States, our community continues to suffer disproportionately in almost EVERY social ill in this country: The high school graduation rate of our young males is the lowest of any group, our children are reading at levels way below their counterparts, unemployment rates for black people is higher than any other group, 75% of our children grow up in single parent homes. I can go on to talk about teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS rates, poverty, incarceration… you name it. If it’s a bad stat, most likely black people are disproportionately represented. Not to mention the image and perception portrayed of our community in the main stream media. Recently, I’ve been inspired by something that I first heard from Louis Farrakhan, but has been uttered by so many of our leaders throughout history. “Why does the black community continually wait for others to do for us what we can do for ourselves?””
By: | WNCT-On Your Side
Published: May 28, 2011
Updated: May 28, 2011 - 5:21 PM
Updated: May 28, 2011 - 5:21 PM