November 2005

Contacts: Sen. Harriette L. Chandler,, 617-722-1544
Lynne Tolman,, 508-831-0301
Janet Dufault,
Virginia Walsh,


Teachers can download free materials

     The Major Taylor Association and Massachusetts state Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, are pleased to announce that the Major Taylor Association's free curriculum guide has been expanded. The lessons about trailblazing black athlete Marshall W. “Major” Taylor, 1899 world cycling champion, now include materials for all grade levels.

     Originally developed in 2002 for Grades 3-4, the Major Taylor curriculum guide has been expanded to Grades 5-8 and retains a component for older students as well. The materials are designed to be used at any time -- such as Black History Month (February) or National Sportsmanship Day (first Tuesday in March) -- in conjunction with an optional readathon to benefit the Major Taylor Association's fundraising for a planned statue of Major Taylor at the Worcester Public Library.

     “I am thrilled that more and more students will be able to learn about a true American hero from Worcester. I know it will be of great help in moving forward with the building of Worcester's first monument honoring an African-American,” Sen. Chandler said.

     The curriculum guide was written by two retired teachers: Virginia Walsh, who taught at West Tatnuck Elementary School in Worcester, and Janet Dufault, past president of the Educational Association of Worcester.

     “Major Taylor's life is a powerful story that really grips kids, opens their eyes to a significant period in history, and teaches valuable lessons about character,” Ms. Walsh said. “It's not just about sports.”

     Ms. Dufault said it’s a pleasure to offer teachers a supplement to textbook materials, especially one that combines a compelling subject with a community project.

      Ms. Walsh added that the Major Taylor unit fits the curriculum frameworks of the Massachusetts Department of Education and was approved for districtwide use by the administration of the Worcester Public Schools. Major Taylor readathons in her school and others have raised thousands of dollars for the Major Taylor statue.

     The weeklong Major Taylor unit for children in Grades 3 and 4 is based on a successful character-education and community-service project that Ms. Walsh led in her school. The unit includes five take-home worksheets that provide information about “the Worcester Whirlwind,” as Major Taylor was known, and related exercises and activities employing language, math and other skills.

     The materials for Grades 5-8 take a closer look at Major Taylor’s superstar status and the times he lived in. In addition to reading, writing and math skills, suggested tasks require active investigation, critical thinking and creativity. The materials for older students focus on the Jim Crow racial prejudices that marked Major Taylor's athletic career, how the champion reacted to the closed doors and open hostility he faced on and off the bike, and how his experiences might guide athletes and others today.

     The 21-page curriculum kit, which includes a resource list for further reading, can be downloaded as a PDF at no charge from Teachers also may request a free classroom poster of Major Taylor from

     “Part of the mission of the Major Taylor Association is to teach young people about this forgotten hero. We're thrilled that professional educators in Worcester, where Major Taylor lived most of his life, have taken the initiative to bring his legacy to the next generation,” said Lynne Tolman, a board member of the Major Taylor Association.

     “Major Taylor broke through the ‘color line’ a decade before boxer Jack Johnson and half a century before ballplayer Jackie Robinson. We can learn a lot by looking at the forces in society and the personal qualities that played into that,” Ms. Tolman said. “These curriculum materials provide an excellent introduction for youngsters, teachers, parents and communities.”

     For more information about Major Taylor, click here.

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