Who was Major Taylor

Major Taylor's influence continues
By Lynne Tolman

Worcester, Mass.
February 8, 1998 -- Black History Month

   The story of Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, world champion bicyclist in 1899, continues to inspire.  Among the events and efforts in his memory:

  • Jennifer Okere and Geneva Brown, who met as parishioners of the Second Baptist Church in Worcester, are hoping to create a monument on Worcester Common to memorialize Taylor.
  • Enrique Washington of Portland, Ore., an African-American who is working with Taylor's great-granddaughter Karen Brown-Donovan in California to set up a scholarship foundation in Taylor's memory, will give a presentation about the champion cyclist at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Second Baptist Church, 14 Hammond St.
  • African-American cyclist Bruce Bailey of North Hollywood, Calif., who has family roots in Worcester, is raising money to take a group of teen-agers on a cross-country bike pilgrimage to Worcester next summer, with Major Taylor's life as the inspiration and theme.
  • Doug Atkinson of Canadian Video Services in Toronto, a consultant to film and video producers, said he is responding to inquiries about Taylor and is "becoming more and more convinced of the viability of a project on the life of Major Taylor with every passing day."
  • Worcester resident Sy Farnsworth recently gave the Worcester Historical Museum an antique bicycle believed to have belonged to Taylor.  The museum is trying to authenticate the find before putting it on display.  Farnsworth got the bike from his father, Thornton Farnsworth, who ran a storage business near Lincoln Square.  A Worcester family had failed to pay the bill for its storage space, and Farnsworth sold off their belongings, but he kept the bike, realizing its historical significance.
  • A 1992 made-for-television movie, "Tracks of Glory," chronicled Taylor's racing seasons in Australia.  His daughter, Sydney Taylor Brown was born there and named for the capital of New South Wales.
  • The Octagon Cycling Club of Hartford has received permission from Taylor Brown, 93, to mass-merchandise the Major Taylor jersey it designed and has asked cycling apparel maker Pearl Izumi to produce it.
  • In 1996, Brown-Donovan accepted the Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award in Taylor's name from USA Cycling, which governs bike racing.  It was the first time the award had been given posthumously.
  • A student who stumbled upon the story of Major Taylor arranged for the champion's posthumous induction into the Hall of Black Achievement at Bridgewater State College last year.

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