Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kittie Knox and Beantown Cycling

A “Tease” to Get Started on Beantown in the Cycling Era:  Boston and its Cycling Suburbs in the 19th Century
“This murky goddess of Beanville….was several checks shy of the complexion requirement, and is not eligible, and, therefore, not a member, despite the fact she holds a membership card.” From an 1895 Southern Cycler comment on the League of American Wheelmen membership of Kittie Knox, well-known Boston biracial cyclist of 1895.

“This is the National meet of the League of American Wheelmen, and they cannot refuse Miss Knox recognition, as they could if it were their local meet.  Miss Knox can stay in the league so long as she cares to remain.” Rejoinder from George A. Perkins, leading Massachusetts wheelman and sometime “Roads Commissioner” for the state of Massachusetts, quoted in the New York Times July 10, 1895

But ……”the whole affair was a bit of sensationalism and misplaced and misguided chivalry on the part of a few misguided youths who seem to think the young woman was entitled to more than her share of courtesy; thus making a sensation not at all creditable to themselves, and largely assisting the false impression which had spread about in regard to the young woman, who evidently was not at all averse to her notoriety.” Comment by Mary Sargent Hopkins in her Boston-based women’s cycling magazine: The Wheelwoman.  Hopkins objected to Kittie Knox’s behavior and above all to the fact that she did not wear a skirt while cycling and rode a man’s bike!

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