Najari Smith, founder and Executive Director of Rich City Rides, was born in Brooklyn, New York, sojourning to the City of Richmond in 2010. Ever since then he has been a committed member of the Richmond BPAC (Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee) and served as its chair from 2016-2017. Getting involved with biking, encouraging others to get involved with biking, and working with the city to improve bike infrastructure are most important to him.
Najari believes in using the bicycle as a tool to unite neighborhoods and community members throughout the entire Bay Area by creating the biggest bicycle celebrations this city has ever had. These events make the city of Richmond noticeable to the rest of the Bay Area while increasing the pride of our own residents.
“I just want my people to be happy, healthy, and interconnected.”
Like other staff members at RCR, Josue grew up in Richmond–just blocks away from the BART station and from what was then the future Rich City Rides Bike Shop. He was drawn to bicycles and often spent time with his closest friends riding, fixing, and building up their bikes. Josue connected to RCR at the ground level in 2011 when the organization was in its infancy. Josue volunteered at the different places where RCR set up shop: at weekly Saturday community fairs on the Richmond Greenway, at spaces in a local storage/arts facility, and the Richmond Police Activities League building.
Josue is now the shop’s retail/sales manager, serving customers, developing products, tracking sales, ordering and tracking inventory. However, Josue, like most of our crew, does a little bit of everything and covers a lot of territory. In 2014 he participated in a week-long bike/business training in Portland, Oregon; and in August 2016 he traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to visit a bike collective and learned about its bike culture.
For the past two years Josue has organized The Red Oak Victory Bicycle Race in Richmond. The winner-takes-all race is a sprint that takes place in September and starts at the historic Red Oak Victory ship at the Port of Richmond.
Josue also contributes his skills as photographer and videographer. He brings his unique take on the world to Rich City, a perspective grounded in the flatlands of Richmond and wokedness to bicycle culture across North America.
Phone: (510) 565-9047
Roshni McGee (Taye)
Taye is our Program Manager and Lead Mechanic. The children in the community are always on Taye’s mind. He cares deeply for them and, around Rich City Rides, he is known as the neighborhood father. Taye’s nature is to take all the kids up under his wing and leave them with a lesson.
Although Taye “didn’t have the best childhood,” he went on to attend college and studied fiber optics, data entry, computer circuitry, and sociology. Because Taye’s mother was a child-care provider, he was always under her guidance as he watched her parent and helped her manage the children.
In this context, Taye learned to love children and the importance of being patient with them. Taye is usually behind the scenes because he likes it that way. “I don’t like to be put on a pedestal,” Taye says. “But I admit I do appreciate a little notoriety.”
Phone: (510) 230-8419
Nakari is Program Assistant for Rich City. In this role he develops, organizes, hosts, and chaperones RCR programs and events.
Nakari is a former Student Body President of Contra Costa College and its former Vice President of the Black Student Union. He is a fifth generation resident of Richmond, a bicycle enthusiast, urban painter, and community activist and advocate for teenage mental health. He currently attends Contra Costa College, majoring in psychology with a minor in African American studies.
Nakari aspires to be a mental and physical health educator to improve the lives of Richmond’s youth; he believes young people are the most vital source of the community’s success or failure. The desire to inhabit and promote a positive, welcoming environment is why Nakari joined Rich City Rides. He believes the RCR organization and space allows him to get closer to young people and to observe how they confront, combat and navigate their issues.
“I wake up to be a leader but I strive to see the truth, love, and honor in those who struggle to see these same three aspirations in humanity.”
Phone: (510) 401-4688
Ebony is Rich City Rides’ Outreach Coordinator. She is a skilled organizer and communicator, and loves to bring people–especially children and families–together for enjoyable and safe learning experiences. Ebony first learned about Rich City a few years ago by going on two consecutive weekend social rides, which earned her a bicycle. From there, one thing led to another…
Ebony is a born and raised Richmond resident. Here she raises her “two beautiful babies”– her eight-year-old son Zakkar and her one-year-old daughter Lyric. “Richmond won’t let me leave,” she says with a laugh. “Which is fine; I love home.”
Ebony’s grandparents were born in the South. Her mother’s side hails from Texas, her father’s family from Louisiana. Maybe that’s why she feels country at heart and likes her shoes off. She feels at peace being in nature and with animals. Ebony’s parents, uncles and aunts were all born in Richmond, and she proudly identifies with being second generation California- and Richmond-born and raised.
Ebony safely harbors childhood memories of riding her bike all over Richmond with her friends. Hilltop was always a prized destination because that’s where they could glide up and down the hills. During one of these freewheeling rides Ebony lost a little control and flipped over the handlebars, chipping her two front teeth. “And I still have two fake front teeth!” she testifies.
In addition to being a mother and on staff at Rich City Rides, Ebony enjoys attending cosmetology school (“my hair has always been wild and crazy, and now it’s bald… you never know!”), and making jewelry.
What draws Ebony to Rich City? “I feel like I accidentally stumbled across my tribe,” Ebony said quietly. “We all have a common goal, which is to help the people of our community in more ways than just biking. And I just feel like my presence is important here.
“We’re that go-to place for people when you’re feeling up ‘cause you want to continue to be in good spirits. We’re that go-to place when you’re feeling down because you want to be in good spirits, in a good energy.
“I’ve noticed we have been a resource center for the community, because even if there is something that someone needs help with that we don’t specialize in, we all care enough to make those phone calls, and reach out to people that we know can help, and point people in the right direction. You know, we’re just here, and I like that.
“I’ve tried to leave Richmond; twice I’ve moved out of the state, and I always end up back here. And I feel like, that’s because my purpose is here in Richmond. And the fact that I feel so at home when I’m with my co-workers here at Rich City Rides makes me feel like this is where my work is supposed to be at. Whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing, this is where I’m supposed to start.”
Born in Oakland, raised in Richmond and a long-term Richmond resident, Paul is the part-time administrative assistant for Rich City Rides after having served for several months as a volunteer. He supports and helps think about internal and external communications and related issues, including reviewing, editing, and producing social media content and other written communications.
Paul is proud to be a product of the Richmond public schools. He attended Alvarado and El Monte elementary schools, Adams Junior High School, and John F. Kennedy High School. Before arriving at RCR, Paul worked for the West Contra Costa Unified School District as its communications director where, during his 20-year career, he served eight different individuals in the Office of the Superintendent of Schools–including the District’s first and only woman Superintendent, Gloria Johnston.
In prior years Paul has volunteered as facilitator for the Computer Lab at Stege Elementary School, at the Richmond Community Foundation, Building Blocks for Kids, and the Richmond Public Library’s Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP).
Phone: (510) 932-4095 | email: email@example.com
Zawditu “DJ Oracle” Selassie
Zawditu first connected with Rich City Rides the way so many people do: hearing about and then joining one of our Sunday social rides. Admitting that she was spending too much time indoors in isolation from other people, Zawditu knew this wasn’t good for her physical or mental health. So when a friend told her about the Sunday social rides at Rich City and encouraged her to go, she decided to give it a shot.
Zawditu describes her first ride as a revelation. Just being outdoors riding a bicycle for the first time in a while was itself refreshing. But there was more. Bicycling with a diverse group of friendly and joyful people and taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhoods, nature and shoreline: this was food for the soul. That experience enticed Zawditu to visit the bike shop where she found the good vibes continued. Wanting to plug in more, she decided to volunteer. And this brings us pretty much up to date.