We had the good fortune of connecting with Nedra Deadwyler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nedra, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
My end goal in life is to live the life I was created and designed to live. From an early age, I learned how to listen to myself and to make decisions based on my values. Making decisions based on values, beliefs, or what I thought to be the right thing to do, was generally not easy, comfortable, or fun. For most of my life, I’ve taken the quiet route and just walked away. As engaging in conversation could mean me compromising myself because it would endear me to the person in front of me. I’ve not always gotten it right and I still have many things to learn about intentionality and courage; however, I’ve taken numerous steps in the past in these directions. At the end of my professional career, I don’t want to feel like I’ve worked my entire life towards goals. I want to feel that not only did I make a difference in someone’s life, I also made a difference more broadly for my community and the world. I would like to have pushed through any of my own internal resistance to make visual art, carried on the traditions of one grandmother- quilted, learned to sew, have taken up cross0-stitch. That I’d have written books and taught in higher education. Did the things that were purposed for me. Instead of succumbing to fear, perfectionism, and anxieties of how my offerings would be received.
What should our readers know about your business?
Civil Bikes is something I began after visiting Civil Rights sites in Alabama and realizing that it would be more fun and enjoyable if I was on a bike instead of riding in the backseat of a car. The context and setting of the narratives were embedded in the landscape, even if the landscape was altered over the years. After beginning leading tours and becoming a bike educator, I began to meet other cyclists who were part of the bike equity movement. They called me in, meaning they helped me to learn that it was important to also address equity and speak about mobility justice in addition to teaching people how to ride smart according to rules of the road and telling them about history and place. I am a social worker which means my work is to speak up for those in our community who are harmed by systems of oppression. History reveals this fact time and time again. I’m proud that I stood up when expressing these ideas publically was not popular and the goal was a universal story, stories that were positive. Now we are “telling the full story”, which is great to witness, things still are not perfect. We have a long ways to go to get beyond an acknowledgment to centering history about diverse voices. Over the years of doing this work, I’ve had the opportunity to learn many lessons- personally and professionally. I have had to learn to value my own work, contribution, and perspective. I understand that work is not my life and that maintaining my fullness is what allows me to breathe life into all my projects. Professionally I have learned how to listen to myself which means pushing deeper and deeper into my mind, body, spirit to understand what is there, being curious with myself, and being open without judgment. I am learning in real-time the ways of being a public historian. And I think the most how to be transparent, honest, and open without fear of being hurt which means keeping my ego in check. My work is personal but it is not about me- it is the work of Sankofa, keeping the past in full view to bring about a future that is sustainable, responsible, and regenerative.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a good friend was visiting for a way we would do the following: To get outside:
Bike around, BeltLine, to downtown, over to the AUC, and to Piedmont Park.
Hike the East Palsaides Trails.
Hike to the top of Stone Mountain and the trails around the base.
Drive north to Bear Creek and hike the trials.
Bike to visit murals Castleberry Hill, on the Westside, and Sweet Auburn
Visit the High
See what shows are happening the weekend (Hapeville, East Point, Atlanta)
Music- The Earle,
See/ Be Seen
Stroll the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine and Piedmont Park
PCM- ramen @ Ton Ton and Hops Chicken
Buford Highway- Mex, El Ray Del Taco, Banh mi Quoc Huong Banh Mi, Lee’s Bakery, Pho I Love Pho
West End- Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe, Wadada Healthy Market
Truly Living Well
Freedom Park Famers Market
Grant Park Farmers Market
walk and take photos or just walk
High Museum of Art
The Nap Ministry
Bodywork -with Chad
sit outside and draw
King National Park – exhibits
Center for Civil and Human Rights
Bonfire at my house with friends
Visit my family and eat
Mostly cook at home and drink wine together
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be here if it were not for my parents (my dad continues to remind me that I can have anything I want and my mom tells everyone she knows about my project), brothers have assisted me when I needed boots on the ground, my extended family has been an inspiration and my why- they are living history, Clay has been hands-on from the first day we meet (helping me move my shop, bikes, bike repair, designing merchandise, sharing historical sources and resources), friends (Sagdrina, Tiffany, Terri, Sam, Trish) are always rooting for my success, my doggoes, Tinker and Emmi, customers, Dr. Cliff Kuhn, who took me on a civil rights tour and then strongly encouraged me to enter into grad school for Public History, and the Spirit that encourages, guides, uplifts, and keep me.