Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was a trailblazing African-American athlete who changed professional cycling during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Major Taylor broke barriers others are celebrated for breaking, and he did so decades earlier.
Major Taylor was born November 26, 1878 in Indianapolis. Major’s achievements in a predominantly white and racially segregated sport not only showcased his exceptional athletic abilities but also challenged the racial prejudices of his time.
Major Taylor showed a natural talent for cycling at a young age. He quickly gained attention for his speed and endurance.
In 1899, Major Taylor became the first African-American to win a major world championship in cycling, becoming world sprint champion in Montreal, Canada. This victory set the stage for his future accomplishments and an unprecedented career at a time when bicycles were the emergent technology and bicycle racing captivated the world’s attention.
Major encountered hostility from other competitors as well as the public, and he often had to endure attacks of various kinds on and off the track.
As Taylor became known as the greatest cyclist in the world, he advocated for racial equality and civil rights. He became a symbol of African-American achievement in sports, inspiring generations of athletes to follow in his footsteps.
Although he retired in 1910, Major Taylor’s legacy endures as a testament to his determination to remove barriers. His accomplishments and the example he set provided the basis for countless African-American athletes and contributed immeasurably to the fight for equality. To this day, Major Taylor’s story inspires people worldwide.
World Sprint Champion
US Sprint Champion
Record mile speed
US Bicycling Hall of Fame
Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement
UCI Cycling Hall of Fame
STATUE OF COMMEMORATION
IAA Jesse Owens Award
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