History Crush: Bessie Stringfield, Aquarius

Stunt motorcyclist, the “motorcycle queen of Miami”, World War II bike courier, six times wife – always to much younger men, mother and non-stop defiance merchant, Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to traverse the United States by motorbike. This may not sound like a massive achievement, but picture this in the 1920s and 1930s, when colored people were not even allowed to stay in hotels, such was the conventional racism. She’d sleep wild and was also an early proponent of couch-surfing.

In an era where women who wore pants were the object of societal derision, she competed in races and supported herself by doing bike stunts at carnivals. She owned 27 Harley bikes and was a devout Catholic, giving thanks to God for her freedom to “toss a penny on the map” and ride there.

An Aquarius born in 1911, she had fluid Venus in Pisces, Lilith in Sagittarius, Moon in Gemini Mutability underpinned by Mars, Mercury and Uranus in Capricorn. She kept riding right up until her last day, passing just before her Uranus Return at age 84.

No birth time is available so who knows her rising sign – i see Leo in the love of glamor and the self-creation of herself as a performer. She was also big on doing her hair and make-up every damn day, no matter what. And there was a lot of ‘what’ in her life.


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31 thoughts on “History Crush: Bessie Stringfield, Aquarius

  1. She’s gorgeous ! Regards the hotel thing, I’ve travelled to the US quite a few times since the late 70s. On my first trip I stayed in an Afro American hotel in LA. They were quite surprised when I walked in and was the only whitey staying there. I had a great time aside from nearly getting arrested in this breakfast take away store over the road by over zealous cops ( it’s a long story, but I was chatting to a dude who happened to be wanted in 15 states .. anyway ). Since that time I’ve stayed in a variety of Afro hotels, a particular one in Baltimore my favourite. I’m always the only whitey and have always been treated with the utmost respect and care. I reckon she’s Aries rising, I know a few and she’s got that look.

      • Jeez, thanks for the correction. I showed it to 2 ‘black’ friends who don’t agree with each other or you ;or like the term black 🙂 and can’t see the difference, anyways…
        apologies if I used what you or ‘us’ would consider an antiquated misnomer. It was not my intention… obviously ?

  2. Are Bessie Stringfield and Bessie Coleman related to each other other than being bad@ss Bessies ? Cos the bottom pic is Coleman. 🙂

    • Really? It comes up captioned as Stringfield in multiple places…but i just checked and yes, also captioned as Bessie Coleman. Fixing now.

  3. Asc in Sagg. Leo would’ve got sick of the bugs in the teeth aft a while. Saggs would have a ‘ground-hog day’ attitude to doing their thing. Her last ride would’ve felt like her first.

      • Ditto on Sagg. With the much younger lovers and love of travel. And the penchant for religion at the core of her embodiment of wildness!

    • These comments are so tedious – in fact the way Leos are often portrayed on this blog by commenters (not Mystic) are so stereotypically shallow.

      “Leo would’ve got sick of the bugs in the teeth aft a while”
      “Leo would soon tire of the inconvenience.”

      It didn’t seem to bother Amelia Earhart in the least and a cluster of other Leo women explorers and adventurers. Don’t be so biased, lazy and shallow.

  4. *sighs*

    I love women who break the mold; it’s the Uranian in me <3 Strong, beautiful women who defy stereotypes and often beat the boys at their own game…I suppose it all started with Mona Lisa Vito:

      • You are so very welcome – looking back, I think she was my very first girlcrush, LOL. High-maintenance city-slicker vibe aside, in retrospect I actually do find her character quite relatable. I’m a big believer in “cross-training”; the cultivation of skills, knowledge, and expertise outside the confines of that which is considered “typical” for one’s gender. I do love being able to chuck a good curveball over the plate now and again…they never see it coming. 😉

  5. One: Please do not refer to black people as “colored”. It is an antiquated American misnomer associated with segregation (I am black).

    Two: I believe it is a great achievement to traverse ANY part of a terrain on a motorbike, regardless of the time period so please do not denigrate that.

    I am a fan of your website and am also fiercely protective of the way in which my fellow black women are portrayed and written about. <3 <3 <3

    • Lilith, that actually should have been in inverted commas as i was paraphrasing the ‘rules’ at the time. It is not a term i am aligned with. And yes i agree with you re point two. What i was trying to convey, albeit obviously clumsily, is that the feat of traversing the continent by motorbike is one thing but doing it in a hostile, racist and sexist society just truly audacious.

        • Personally I do not see your point that Mystic is somehow “denigrating” the feat of travelling the continent by motorbike because of mentioning the time frame? And having achieved your aim of getting your (ill-aimed imo) point across you tell her to amend her work so rudely? Nice.

      • “POC” or “person of color” is generally regarded as an ok term to use in the U.S. But I’m not sure about outside of the U.S. However “colored” person is generally frowned upon in the states.

    • Shine your light, own your voice! These are trying times for folks of color and I don’t blame you for being fierce about it. This is an amazing homage post, but I’m a little riled on your behalf re: how you’re being responded to in the comments when you are speaking up bravely amid a (clearly) white majority. I usually hate throwing myself into the middle of internet things like this, but had to say something. Love to all, just PLEASE think i.e. look at social context & state of the world & history? before you snip.

      • imo if you’re going to engage (also bravely, and much needed) with issues of race and racism in an homage post, you need to let the marginalized voices have their say on how you do it. It’s easy to get sh*t wrong. (I’m Chinese and if a historic post didn’t have “oriental” in quotes, hell yeah I’d be calling it out.) What’s not easy is being the one pointing it out, knowing one probably isn’t going to get heard, but hoping. Respectful comments re: the above go a long way to creating safe space so that posts like this actually feel like a homage, not just a pat on the back. <3

  6. Now if we can just get Bessie Smith to be an Aquarius, I’ll be happy as a pig in shit. Triple-Aqua biker, here, with Venus in Pisces to boot. I’ve ridden cross the US couch surfing so this woman IS one of my ancestors. Rock! I was told by a playwright the other day that one of my trips was play-worthy. Wouldn’t it be cool to mix it with her story too?

    Thanks, Mystic!

    • Omg, I adore Bessie Smith, she is incredible – she has Mars in Aquarius? Lots of Gemini. Mercury and Venus in Pisces – mmmm for artistry!!! But Sun in awesome Aries with NN & Moon in Virgo of all things.

  7. Bessie seems coolllll, really independent, determined and cheery – all that air.
    But I think the Saturn in Mercury is interesting. Traveller, speaker of all languages, holder of all currencies in Capricorn sounds incredible. I need some Capricorn in my chart so bad!

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