Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Maryland History
In early August of 1994, Brian Bulow and his cousin, Leon Martin, met Ken “Dream Maker” Thomas, President of the Buffalo Troopers (formerly Soldiers) of Chicago, Illinois, at the National Black Bikers Roundup in Atlanta, Georgia. He was impressed with Dream Maker and his members, who were proud, clean and articulate black men. Brian and Leon spent much of their time with Dream Maker learning about life as a black biker.
After several months of continued communications, Ken “Dream Maker” Thomas permitted Brian and Leon to charter a second chapter for black touring bikers who loved motorcycling and to promote the rich history and the legacy of the post-civil war 9th and 10th Calvary Buffalo Soldiers. Dream Maker gave Brian the option of using the name Buffalo Troopers or Soldiers. Using the Chicago club’s by-laws as a guide, Brian founded and registered the name Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Southern Maryland, Inc. in March of 1995. This was the first chapter to bear the name “Buffalo Soldiers”.
In April 1995, Brian Bulow met Donald Thigpen at Heyser Cycles in Laurel, Maryland. This meeting helped launch the club in the greater Washington, DC area. Donald was a member of a motorcycle club called the Wanderers and he invited Brian to meet the other members of the club. After meeting the members, Donald invited Brian to ride with them to the Americade Rally at Lake George, New York.
The original five members were: Donald Thigpen, Hugh Valentine, Pasteur Tebo., James Valentine and David Johnson. After a year, Bulow, Thigpen, Tebo, and both Valentines were designated Charter Members and gained such state-wide presence that the club changed its name from “Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Southern Maryland” to the “Maryland Chapter”.
The first “Buffalo Soldiers” Chapter was made up of hard riders who regularly attended motorcycle events up and down the east coast and numerous places to the west. During their travels, many bikers took a liking to their colors and asked to start chapters in their cities and states. Though not actively recruiting members for the Maryland Chapter, they sponsored five new chapters in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
Most importantly, Brian Bulow, the President of the Maryland Chapter was a founding member of the National Association Buffalo Soldiers/Troopers Motorcycle Club (NABSTMC). In 1999, Brian and four other independent chapter presidents co-founded and helped to established National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club. They met with Dream Maker who led the discussion on forming a National Organization at the “1999 Black Bikers National Round-Up” in Greenville, South Carolina. During that meeting, the formation of the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Trooper Motorcycle Club was approved and founded.
The presidency for the Maryland Chapter respectively: Brian Bulow from 1995 to 2003, Felipe Fields from 2003 to 2013 and who later became the third president of NABSTMC. Before passing away in 2013, Felipe Fields appointed Bobby Smith as the third President. Bobby Smith was president from 2013 to 2015. In 2015, Maryland Chapter began voting for the president of the chapter. After a majority vote, Thearon “Ranger” Williams became the fourth president from March 2015 to December 2021. As of January 2022, Jeff “Shorty Airborne” Freeland is the current president.
The Maryland Chapter is very active in the community and supporting youth education. These initiatives consists of a yearly scholarship contest for local high school seniors, participating monthly at a church soup kitchen, donating clothes to the needy, providing baskets of food at Thanksgiving, and educating all on the rich history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
Annually, the club hosts a jazz/blues concert on Saturday and it’s signature “Buffalo Thunder Ride” on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The ride starts in Landover, Maryland (City of Praise Family Ministries) and concludes with a ceremony at the African American Civil War Monument in Washington, DC. The program includes guest speakers from the military and private sector to honor black servicemen and woman.