Pandemic Journals - Chasing History Episode 3
With St. Augustine’s University (SAU) pretty much off-limits due to COVID-19 restrictions, we asked five members of the Falcon cycling team to give us a glimpse into their daily lives on campus.
Since last year, we’ve been following SAU’s inspiring story , the first historically black college or university to create an official cycling team.
In these intimate vlogs submitted by the student riders, we see how they are juggling the demands of school work, athletic training and the tribulations of coming into your own as a young adult.
For Brandon Valentine-Parris, it’s been an eventful few months with the death of his beloved grandfather in December.
“Cycling has been a place of comfort and a support system for me,” said Valentine-Parris, who is hoping to become a professional cyclist. “It’s kept me from breaking down. Whenever I thought about my grandfather passing away, I just went for a ride.”
Aaliyah Williams, a Florida native, recalled in her vlog an encounter with a young boy who told her that he “touched mud people” — meaning Black people.
“Racism is still being taught today,” she said. “Just as there’s generational wealth and generational success, we have to live with the fact that there’s generational racism.”
She also takes us into her dorm room filled with her cap and Spider-Man collection. Light and darkness. Her story echoes the daily reality of young Black men and women everywhere — you keep pushing ahead despite the persistent drag of centuries-old prejudices.
Inspired by Major Taylor, one of history's great cycling legends, St. Augustine's University is stepping out of their comfort zone to challenge the cycling status quo as the first Historically Black College and University to field a collegiate cycling team.
In Episode One, we met the young riders from St. Augustine's that are on a mission to blaze their own path in collegiate cycling and inspire other riders at HBCUs around the country to ride. But they were not the first on this path. Nelson Vails, similar to the legendary Major Taylor, made a name for himself on the world scene with an Olympic medal in 1984 racking up a series of firsts along the way.