The American Bicycle Group owned Ocoee Bikes label will change its name, with President Peter Hurley having discovered the association of the word “Ocoee” with a 1920s Election Day riot that saw African American communities torched in Florida.
Hurley said he felt the immediate need to “erase any unknowing or accidental connotation by the brand of racial inequality,” upon learning of the connection.
The 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots are relatively unknown and were highlighted as an example of African American history that is now to be elevated through education. On June 23, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law requiring that Florida education include events like the election day riots, and other lynchings and acts of racial violence that are currently not part of regular African American curriculum.
“All of our brands are about providing equal access to everyone, in sports and in life,” said Hurley. “In originally naming the bike “Ocoee,” our focus was on enjoying and exploring the outdoors and adventure. We had no understanding or knowledge of any other potential meaning or historical reference to the word. Now that we are aware of what Ocoee can also mean, it will be changed. Our entire team supports racial equality and stands ready to create a new name that reflects our beliefs.”
ABG is in the process of exploring a new name for the bikes, including researching the historical background of potential names and doing a legal check of previous name registrations.
ABG customers who currently own an Ocoee bike will be notified at a later date of the plan to switch out decals at no-cost. Bikes that are currently in production will be decaled with the new name.
A Letter from ABG CEO Peter Hurley to Current and Future Ocoee Customers:
For those of you who don’t know me or who haven’t had the chance to meet me at an event, a bit of background: I grew up in New England a generation ago, but I see so many parallels in the world of late 1960s and today. For my generation, we dealt with the strife and divisiveness of the Vietnam War and were also witness to the advances and courage of the civil rights movement.
Over the past few days, I’ve become aware of a horrible event associated with our brand name. With fair warning, I invite you to read about it here.
As our team here in Tennessee grows, it’s simply not tenable to set a path forward that builds on the legacy of this event, so we’re going to do what we always do: lead with integrity.
This means a new brand name, of course, but also new decals available for those who have already purchased an Ocoee, a review of our internal statement on diversity and inclusion, and the opportunity to set a precedent of goodwill.
This is not about politics. We’re building for the future. That means an engaging and honest conversation with our consumers at all levels. And, we’re asking everyone along for the ride.
A handful of other bike labels have pledged to create greater equality for people of all backgrounds with policy changes, donations and outreach projects since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police sparked demonstrations around the globe.