Director F. Gary Gray says he loves riding his motorcycle almost as much as he loves making movies. Fortunately he doesn’t have to choose one. Gray combined his two passions in a documentary that follows a journey on his custom Harley-Davidson from Atlanta to Daytona Beach, Fla.
In the video, which debuted on www.h-d.com/ironelite , Gray, the director of such box-office hits as “Friday,” “Set It Off,” and “Law Abiding Citizen,” describes riding his Harley-Davidson as a form of meditation. “When I’m not working, I’m riding.” said Gray.
Joining Gray on the 500 mile ride, which he described as “his best ever,” were three of his Harley riding friends, including actor and “Cosby Show” alum Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
During the journey from Atlanta, to one of the largest annual gatherings of Black bikers in the country, Gray wore the Harley-Davidson Freedom Jacket.
As part the company’s 110th Anniversary Celebration — Harley-Davidson 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. It will return to Milwaukee for a final celebration and display at the Harley-Davidson Museum Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2013.
“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.”
Gray joins a long line of African Americans who have contributed to the 110 year history of Harley-Davidson, the company said in a release. According to Harley, since the company’s founding in 1903, African Americans have had a defining impact on Harley-Davidson’s brand and motorcycling culture.
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 a behind the scenes look at Gray’s inspirational journey with the Freedom Jacket, and to find more feature stories about African American Harley legends and the brotherhood of black bikers, visit: www. h-d.com/ironelite.