October 1998

Forgotten black hero to be memorialized

Contact: Lynne Tolman
(508) 831-0301

A community group in Worcester, Mass., plans to put up a statue of 1899 world bicycling champion Major Taylor.

Fund-raising for the statue has begun, and a site has been set aside at the south entrance to the Worcester Public Library, which is undergoing renovations and an addition. David R. Brigham, curator of American art at the Worcester Art Museum, is coordinating efforts to select a sculptor.

Marshall W. "Major" Taylor overcame prejudice on and off his bike to become the second black world champion athlete in any sport (the first was bantamweight boxer George Dixon in 1891). Taylor held seven world records in 1898, won the world 1-mile bicycling championship in 1899, and was American sprint champion in 1900.

In Worcester, during the 100th anniversary year of Taylor's world championship, the statue effort aims to recognize Taylor's athletic achievements, strength of character and devotion to God. Taylor, an Indiana native, moved to Worcester early in his racing career and lived there most of his life.

"Worcester has a street designated the Major Taylor Bikeway, and school children learn about our cycling hero during Black History Month, but we envision a life-size statue at the library as a more palpable memorial to a truly inspiring figure," said Lynne Tolman, who is involved in the statue effort.

For more information about Major Taylor, visit Who was Major Taylor? or see "Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer" by Andrew Ritchie (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)

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