ride for racial restoration was featured on the front page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Read below for the full article.
by Lauren castle
After seeing news of protests and police shootings in Fort Worth and across the country, two Tarrant County fathers of different backgrounds felt the need to do something to bring healing. Jamaal Johnson, 38, who is Black, and Jeff Kramer, 50, who is white, wanted to be a part of the solution to racial reconciliation. The two men met each other at a church and formed a friendship. “It felt like there was no middle ground available for people to have straight up empathy for one another, lean and understand,” Kramer, a father of four, said.
The two created Ride for Racial Restoration as a way to encourage more people to have discussions about race. The initiative has led a group to participate in the 2021 Hotter’N Hell Hundred Ride in Wichita Falls, Aug. 28-29. The ride is 100 miles long.
While riding, the group is also advocating for Hope Farm. The organization is a long-term mentoring program that helps at-risk boys who may not have a male role model at home. Hope Farm serves boys as young as 5 years old all the way through their high school graduation. Many of the children the organization serves are Black youth. “Everyone talks about doing something and here is a ministry that has been doing something” Johnson, a father of three, said. He said it is important to recognize organizations led by people of color and those in communities of need who are taking action to help. Johnson worked at Hope Farm at the time the two created the idea for the initiative.
One day during the beginning of the pandemic, Johnson went to Kramer’s house and noticed his friend’s many bikes. Johnson was looking for a way to be active other than running and got interested in the idea of cycling. Kramer, an avid cyclist for 25 years, started helping Johnson get into the sport. The two started riding 8 miles together while Johnson used a $300 bike he bought on Craigslist. The two now ride together twice a week.
Their long rides gradually became a time for discussions on race. Johnson said they realized that even if they don’t agree on everything, their relationship is more important. “We can have these conversations in a safe place,” Johnson said. “We felt like if more people had deeper relationships with people who they didn’t look like, these conversations would actually happen and actually go a lot farther.”
The two wanted to do something instead of solely wishing for change. They spread the news of their initiative through word of mouth, Hope Farm and by creating a website. There are now 10 riders who take part and around eight will ride in Wichita Falls. The team hosts training sessions, but also encourages riders to train on their own.
Hotter’N Hell Hundred Ride is well known among cyclists across the country. Kramer said the ride was a perfect fit for them because it wasn’t connected to a nonprofit and allowed them to advocate for Hope Farm while taking part in the event. Johnson said the name of the ride also made a good fit. “It’s long. It’s hard. I think it embodies talking about race in this country,” he said. The two hope for an annual Ride for Racial Reconciliation with more riders in the future. They’ve learned talking about racism is not a topic many want to talk about and it can be lonely. “We really feel like relationships are really the building blocks of racial healing in our community,” Kramer said. “So doing something together is really important.”
Hope Farm has campuses in Fort Worth’s Morningside and Como neighborhoods, and in south Dallas. Hope Farm focuses on helping at-risk boys through providing mentorships, after school programming, food services, academic and literacy help, summer camps, and a vocational school. The organization also helps female guardians through several services including workshops on health and finance, coaching, mentorships, and counseling. Many youth who have participated in the program have gone on to attend college or join the military. One mother graduated this year with a Master’s of Theological Studies from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary.
Published, Fort Worth Star Telegram
August 27, 2021