By Janet Bressler-Bilenky
What does it mean to be an abolitionist in 2017? And what does abolition have to do with bicycles? The 1854 Cycling Company aims to show us. Increasing revelations of America’s ugly past heightens the awareness that slavery continues to the present day in the form of the prison system. A fundamental shift in attitude and action needs to occur for there to be freedom and opportunity for all.
The first glimmerings of The 1854 Cycling Company followed a somewhat familiar pattern: founder Brandale Randolph was shopping fora commuter bike for himself and not finding anything that spoke to him. But, when this Wharton grad, former financial sector guy turned non-profit exec/activist launched himself into entrepreneurship, he knew that the concept of “making a difference” would be more that a catchphrase or marketing ploy- his company must impact people’s lives and be a tangible force for change.
The 1854 Cycling Company does this through direct support to a most vulnerable population- the formerly incarcerated- those who have been released to the community without resources and with the stigma that often prevents them from landing meaningful and self-sustaining employment.
By staffing his workforce with these men and women, training them in the skills of bicycle building and bag manufacturing, paying a living wage, and facilitating pride of accomplishment, Randolph aspires to revolutionize trends in public policy and thought and to light the way for other businesses to do more than nod or pay lip service to the causes they say they believe in.
Randolph is getting lots of press, (most recently in Bloomberg- the big time!) for his ambitious and visionary plans. We’re very pleased he’s chosen the Philly Bike Expo as the place to unveil 1854’s latest products. He’ll also be conducting a seminar about social justice and the bicycle industry on 11/4.
The Philly Bike Expo strives to represent the entire spectrum of the cycling community. We’ve succeeded in reaching racers and recumbent riders, hipsters and crapsters, road warriors and dirt demons, the hobbyist and the expert. We’ve highlighted artists, authors, and adventurers. We’ve hosted artisans and manufacturers of bicycles, components, apparel and accessories from around the country and around the world. In our mission of inclusivity, we embrace the entry of new exhibitor The 1854 Cycling Company.