Cycling for Social Equality

UC Riverside student will bike ride from LA to DC to promote values of diversity and tolerance

Christian Lugo

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — It’s a 3,500-mile trip. It’ll take him about 55 days, as he’ll average about 60 miles per day — with rest days in between. But, the University of California, Riverside student doesn’t mind, because it’s all for a good reason. Christian Lugo will cycle from Los Angeles, California, to Washington D.C. — the nation’s capital — this summer to help promote social equality, diversity, and tolerance.

“I just thought to myself, there’s been so much hate the last few years, and you can’t expect people to just flip a switch and end hate, but at least I can do something to get some positive change going,” Lugo said.

Lugo is a second-year student, majoring in Spanish with a concentration in cultural studies. He was inspired to cycle across the country by a few recent experiences. He started cycling in March 2016, and said he immediately took to the sport. Not only did he start cycling as a form of exercise, but he started using it as his mode of transportation — to the grocery store, to school, even as a means of travel and experiencing new things.

In summer 2016, Lugo studied abroad in the Dominican Republic. Inspired by the professors and the people he met there, as well as the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he decided he would give cycle touring a shot. Though Lugo said his trip is not political in nature, he hopes to promote a positive message of cooperation and respect among all people.

“I will ride across the country encouraging people to sign a pledge for social equality, based on five principles,” he said.

Those principles are as follows:

  • All people are created equal and deserve equal respect.
  • We reject racism and hate speech.
  • Everyone deserves an equal chance at life, love, and employment.
  • All people deserve the right to be heard, especially the marginalized and disenfranchised.
  • We stand up for others because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Along the way, Lugo plans to speak with church groups, schools, and other community organizations to document people’s stories and experiences.

“We cannot allow these principles to be thrown aside, because they are what make this country great. My goal is to obtain at least one million pledges. I also hope to listen to the people I meet and document their stories, allowing their voices to be heard. But, most of all I hope to prove that there are more good people out there, than bad.”

Some of the cities Lugo will make a point to stop in are: Gila Bend, Ariz.; El Paso, Texas; Jackson, Miss.; Birmingham, Ala.; Nashville, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; and Berryville, Va. Though he has a timeline, he understands he will have to be flexible to some degree.

UCR professor Perry Link, who taught Lugo in an honors ignition seminar during Lugo’s freshmen year, noted that “Lugo’s trip embodies the best of a UCR education: independent thought, ethics, and commitment all in one.”

Lugo will start his journey on Sunday, July 2, and plans to have a send-off gathering at the UCR Bell Tower on Saturday, July 1, at 4 p.m.

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