Kittie Knox Remembered
by Joe Biel
Katherine “Kittie” T Knox (1874-1900) challenged perceptions of race and gender in the national spotlight from a young age. Riding a normal upright “men’s” bicycle and wearing self-tailored pants, she paved the way for women to dress as they pleased and achieve mobility on a bicycle, while raising eyebrows and ranking high in races. As a bi-racial teenager in Boston, she joined the first Black cycling group and eventually the National League of American Wheelman. At the annual League meeting in 1895, according to a San Francisco paper, “she produced a league membership card and declared that no exception had ever been taken to her color...After asserting herself to that extent, Miss Knox walked defiantly out with her wheel.” Kitty opened the debate to eventually overturn the color bar, demonstrating her right as an equal member. Even though the League did not officially remove the color bar until over one hundred years later after Kitty had died tragically of kidney disease, her actions were a heartening rally call that paved the way.
“The leaders tried to lose Knox during the eighteen mile run but she was game, and when the big crowd entered the town on the return trip she was up with the leaders, sailing with the best of them,” the Boston Globe wrote in 1895.
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