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Detroit-Based Group Bikes All the Way to Mackinac Island

One group from Detroit is biking all the way to Mackinac Island this week.

Members of Black Leaders Detroit (BLD) are taking part in their second annual “Ride for Equity.”

They plan to reach Mackinac Island on Saturday to speak at the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. So far, they’ve rode more than two-thirds of a 377 mile trip. On Thursday, they left Cadillac for one of the longest rides yet, 63 miles to Eastport.

“I’ve never been a biker like this before, so I started training last year, bounced it off some people and gave it a shot,” said BLD Founder Dwan Danbridge.

They’re riding to raise awareness of what they say is the need for more equitable funding for black-owned businesses.

“We exist basically to support the black entrepreneurs, we serve the for-profit and nonprofit sector in Detroit and the way that we do that is we provide grants and we also have a no-interest loan that just launched this year,” said Danbridge. “The pandemic gave some a pretty unique set of circumstances and challenges to the entrepreneurs, small business owners, but the black entrepreneurs have been dealing with those types of challenges historically.”

Riders say the trip has been challenging, but the message is worth it.

“It’s been great, we get a chance to talk a little bit, we get a chance to experience different difficulties during the ride, which kind of reminds in a symbolic way, the struggles that some of the black and brown businesses have,” said Carl Jackson of Detroit.

“Dwan’s work and the work of Black Leaders Detroit, is so important for all of us, that I felt compelled to come out and spend a whole week with him to build awareness,” said Doug Bitonti Stewart of Detroit.

They say the most surprising part of their trip has been the positive feedback and curiosity they’ve received from the cities they’ve rode through.

“During the actual ride, we were treated very welcoming by everybody we encountered and some of the people actually went into their pockets in real time, once they found out what we were, the cause we were riding for and donated to Black Leaders Detroit,” said Danbridge.

They feel that the ride has led to more positive conversations about equity and equality throughout the state.

“Riding through Northern Michigan is a completely different experience and what I see along the way, is a lot of people working really hard, facing some of the same challenges that families are facing in Detroit,” said Bitonti Stewart.