In 1993, retired Chicago police Officer Kenneth Thomas founded the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club. His goal was to establish a “modern motorcycle club with a positive image among African Americans that would be respected in the community and throughout the country.”
The organization started with 92 members. Today, it has grown to thousands of members in more than 100 chapters around the world.
A rich history
Thomas originally named the club Buffalo Troopers. Later, he changed the name to Buffalo Soldiers to pay homage to contributions made by the historic Black unit of the U.S. military.
“We are actually based on the original Buffalo Soldiers, the first black gentlemen who were allowed into the U.S. Army after the Civil War in 1866,” said Tim “Roadtrip” Lane, president of the Miami chapter. “These guys were cavalrymen. They rode horses, so that’s why we ride our motorcycles. We call them our ‘iron horses.’”
According to the Buffalo Soldier National Museum in Houston, it was the Native Americans who coined the term “Buffalo Soldier.” The name symbolized the Native Americans’ respect for the bravery, valor, and combat prowess of the Black soldiers on the battlefield.
The motorcycle club is open to everyone but is made up mainly of Black riders.
Serving with purpose
Loving to ride is a necessity of membership, but that is third on the list of club goals, after “educate” and “serve.”
The group aims to educate young people on riding and safety but also strives to motivate them to be better citizens and leaders. Those goals play a large part in the community outreach programs the club supports.
“We need today’s youth to be the leaders of tomorrow,” said Lionel “Playworld” Coney, vice president of the Miami chapter. “We are one, big, giant family.”
Coney said the best thing he did with the group was feed the homeless.
Lane added, “We do a lot of charity work, but we also have a yearly scholarship program. We do bookbag drives. We have a number of charity programs every year, throughout the whole nation.”
Most Buffalo Soldiers are older and are focused on the importance of family.
Lane, who is in his 50s, said, “A lot of the people are policemen, military, and other professionals, so it’s a kind of club that’s got some good ground rules in place for safety and for having fun. It’s a good crowd for my age group.”
“There’s a lot of fun stuff for younger people to do,” Coney said. “But this club is (also) fun for people our age. We let the young people go and do their fun stuff, and we get to do our fun stuff. There is enough fun for everybody.”
Lane shared this parting thought for those who share the road.
“If you ever see any Buffalo Soldiers in the road, drive safely and look out for the motorcycles,” Lane said. “And if you see any of our events, please come out and contribute.”
For more information about the national Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club visit https://www.nabstmc.com/
To find an active chapter in your area visit https://www.nabstmc.com/frontiers