This Saturday, October 13th, we’ll return to Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence (106 Appenheimer Avenue, off of Fillmore) for another free and inclusive Bike Stampede in partnership with BestSelf Behavioral Health. Our Dr. Lydia Wright Bike Stampede will start at 1pm as the culmination of BestSelf’s Saturday Academy, which begins at 10am with an array of activities detailed in the flyer below. 

According to her profile on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Freedom Wall, on which she’s honored by artist and Slow Roll collaborator Edreys Wajed, Dr. Lydia T. Wright was “[Buffalo’s] first African American pediatrician, serving generations of children in the community over what would be a thirty-six year career as a physician.

“In 1962, Wright was elected to the Board of Education, vowing to be ‘the community’s voice during Board debates on school racial integration.’ At the time, Buffalo public schools were among the most dramatically segregated in the country and their integration over the course of the 1960s was highly contentious. In 1963, Wright was the only Board member to vote against a plan to district the new Woodlawn Junior High School so that it would be exclusively African American; following a petition by the local branch of the NAACP, the school was forcibly desegregated by the New York State Education Department two years later. During her five years on the Board, Wright fought to develop busing and redistricting plans that would more evenly distribute African American and white students across schools in the district. As a draw for students and their families, she proposed that each high school have a specialization—an idea that anticipated the city’s current magnet school system. In 2000, the Buffalo Common Council agreed to name a new school the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence in honor of ‘her struggle to integrate our school system and to get people to know one another and appreciate one another for who they are, regardless of color or creed.’”

Dr. Lydia T. Wright on The Freedom Wall by Edreys Wajed – photo by Tom Loonan

Learn more below about Saturday Academy and our Dr. Wright’s Bike Stampede from BestSelf Community-Based Organizer Sophia Namulala.

What is the inspiration behind Saturday Academy?

The inspiration behind Saturday Academy is to promote continued growth and learning through community-centered, family-friendly activities and events. It is our hope to instill a stronger sense of community and civic pride in our students and their family members, whilst promoting the benefits and values of education.

What inspires you personally to do this work?

Some time ago I came to the realization that I was lucky enough to be provided a strong, structured, supportive schooling experience, full of extra-curricular activities and events, often facilitated by caring and passionate coaches, parents, teachers and staff – although many students throughout our Buffalo Public Schools District do not have these same opportunities for further growth. Through the various family engagement events, guest presenters and outside partnerships I establish, it is my hope to give students within the After School Program and families who attend Saturday Academy these wonderful opportunities, in hopes of igniting the spirit of achievement and advancement for the greater good and community at large.

What led you to partner with Slow Roll?

When partnering with outside organizations, I often consider my own youth and what was available to me that I may have taken for granted, and provide those to the children and families of the area. I personally enjoyed the simplicity of riding my bike freely with family and friends, and know that often, in some neighborhoods, this is not a particularly the case, so I wanted to provide my school’s community with this fun and safe experience.

It is my hope that hosting the Slow Roll to help facilitate this experience, we can help to break down stereotypes and stigmas associated with riders living in low-income neighborhoods. Additionally, the health benefits associated with the physical activity of riding a bike can be enjoyed by all ages and benefit us all when considering the high levels of air and noise pollution associated with traffic; not to mention that bicycles are a much more affordable means of transportation for many who do not have access to vehicles.

What should attendees expect this Saturday?

This Saturday, when community members join us for our event, they will be welcomed by a wonderfully extensive and exotic petting zoo, pony rides, guided dancing lessons, DIY crafts, guided nature walks, hands-on science activities, community gardening activities, 3-on-3 basketball, bingo, no-bake harvest cooking class, and even a chance to win a bike! As always, a hot breakfast and lunch will be provided. There is fun for all ages, from 10am to 1pm followed by the Slow Roll.