Saturday, October 24, 2009

Major Taylor May 21, 2008: Dedication Of The Monument In Worcester, Mass

from the Major Taylor Association press release

Greg LeMond, Edwin Moses will be featured speakers at May 21 unveiling
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and three-time Olympic medalist Edwin Moses will be featured speakers at the public unveiling of the Major Taylor memorial from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Worcester Public Library. LeMond, who won a world championship in cycling 90 years after Major Taylor did, and Moses, who dominated the 400-meter hurdles in track and field for a decade, were each named "Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year" at the height of their athletic careers in the 1980s. The statue of the "Worcester Whirlwind" created by sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez is Worcester's first monument to an African-American. The dedication ceremony will be followed by a reception with refreshments in the library's Banx Room. Preceding the noontime ceremony, the Seven Hills Wheelmen and the Charles River Wheelmen's Wednesday Wheelers will lead a 30-mile bicycle ride starting and ending at the library. At 7 p.m. at the library, the Clark University History Department and Higgins School of Humanities will present a panel discussion on "Race, Sports, and Major Taylor's Legacy." Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson will be moderator for these scholars, historians and authors exploring diversity in sports and society, then and now: Andrew Ritchie, author of the biography "Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer" (1988), Janette T. Greenwood, associate professor of history at Clark University, author of a case study of Worcester County's black community in the late 1800s and of "Bittersweet Legacy," on the emergence and interaction of the black and white middle class, David V. Herlihy, author of "Bicycle: The History" (2004), with research on Major Taylor's popularity abroad, C. Keith Harrison, associate professor of sports business management at the University of Central Florida, and associate director of the Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport

Major Taylor 2

WNBC-TV (Channel 4) New York featured 1899 world cycling champion Major Taylor in a segment broadcast on Nov. 24, 2007. Very well done in my opinion.

Major Taylor

There's a Major Taylor Blvd in Worcester and I was curious as to why it was there. I had known about him from studying and teaching black history and had made part of the slide show five years ago. Yes, I know the background song is whacky. I stuck it in because it was a favorite of my mother. Excerpt from the Major Taylor Association

"Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor (26 November 187821 June 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Taylor was the second African-American athlete to achieve the level of world championship—after boxer George Dixon.
Taylor was the son of Gilbert Taylor and Saphronia Kelter, who had migrated from Louisville, Kentucky with their large family to a farm in rural Indiana. Taylor's father was employed in the household of a wealthy Indianapolis family as a coachman, where Taylor was also raised and educated. At an early age, Taylor received a bicycle the family and he began working as an entertainer at the age of 13. Taylor was hired to perform cycling stunts outside a bicycle shop while wearing a soldier's uniform, hence the nickname Major.
As an African-American, Taylor was banned from bicycle racing in Indiana once he started winning and made a reputation as "The Black Cyclone." In 1896, he moved from Indianapolis to Middletown, Connecticut, then a center of the United States bicycle industry with half a dozen factories and 30 bicycle shops, to work as a bicycle mechanic in the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company factory, owned by Birdie Munger who was to become his lifelong friend and mentor, and racer for Munger's team. His first east coast race was in a League of American Wheelmen one mile race in New Haven, where he started in last place but won.
In late 1896, Taylor entered his first professional race in Madison Square Garden, where he lapped the entire field during the half-mile race. Although he is listed in the Middletown town directory in 1896, it is not known how long he still resided there after he became a professional racer. He eventually settled in Worcester, Massachusetts (where the newspapers called him "The Worcester Whirlwind"), marrying there and having a daughter, although his career required him to spend a large amount of time traveling, in America, Australia, and Europe."

It looks like his former home on Hobson Ave is right near Clark University
great kids' biography by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome

There's also another good bio by Todd Balf

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