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Major Taylor Books

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“Before Magic, before Ali, before Jesse Owens, there was Major Taylor. . . . This is a must read [for] anyone interested in the transcendent power of the bicycle as a vehicle of real freedom.”—Bob Roll, NBC cycling analyst and former professional cyclist



In the tradition of The Boys in the Boat and Seabiscuit, a fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking but forgotten figure—the remarkable Major Taylor, the black man who broke racial barriers by becoming the world’s fastest and most famous bicyclist at the height of the Jim Crow era.


LEADERS LIKE US: In this illustrated biography, elementary-aged readers will learn about the early life and greatest accomplishments of an important African American leader in sports, Major Taylor.

BIOGRAPHY READERS FOR CHILDREN: "Major" loved to ride his bike. He raced and did tricks, winning award after award. He became one of the best bicycle racers in the United States in just a few years. What happened to this amazing athlete? In this high-interest reader, you'll discover fascinating facts about this important historical figure.

INCLUDES: This 24-page book for grades 1–4 includes a time line, questions for discussion, and an extension activity.


Marshall Taylor could ride his bike forward, backward, even perched on the handlebars. When his stunts landed him a job at the famous Indiana bike shop Hay and Willits, folks were amazed that a thirteen-year-old black boy in 1891 could be such a crackerjack cyclist. How little Marshall Taylor -- through dedication, undeniable talent, and daring speed -- transformed himself into the extraordinary Major Taylor is chronicled in this inspiring biography. Here is the story of a kid who turned pro at the age of eighteen, went on to win the world championship title just three years later, and battled racism and the odds to become a true American hero.


World champion at 19... One of the first black athletes to become world champion in any sport... 1-mile record holder... American sprint champion in 1898, 1899, 1900... triumphant tours of Europe and Australia... Victories against all European champions...

Major Taylor, the black American cyclist and 1899 World Sprint Champion, was the highest paid and most famous athlete in what was then the world’s most popular and lucrative sport. Spectators packed stadiums in North America, Europe and Australasia to watch him race. In the United States, however, his white rivals’ racial bigotry, hatred, threats, and dangerous and dirty riding tactics became intolerable. It was in Australia, in 1904, facing his American arch enemy, that hostilities came to a head.


American bicycle racer Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor (1878-1932) was the word’s first black sports superstar. He was world cycling champion in 1899, American sprint champion in 1900, and set numerous track cycling records. Nicknamed “Major” in his youth in Indianapolis and later known as “the Worcester Whirlwind” after his adopted hometown in Massachusetts, he was the second African-American world champion in any sport (after Canadian-born bantamweight boxer George Dixon of Boston won his title in 1891). In the Jim Crow era of strict racial segregation, Taylor had to fight prejudice just to get on the starting line. He faced closed doors and open hostility with remarkable dignity. In his retirement, he wrote his autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World.


The story of a man who transcended the handicaps of race to become America’s first African American mega sports celebrity

At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of lightning-fast racers won the hearts and minds of a bicycling-crazed public. Scientists studied them, newspapers glorified them, and millions of dollars in purse money were awarded to them. Major Taylor aimed to be the fastest of them all

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