Celebrating Black History Month

Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor

Professional Cyclist, Leader, and Inspiration for Camaraderie


Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor (November 26, 1878 – June 21, 1932) was an American professional cyclist.  He was born and raised in Indianapolis, where he worked in bicycle shops and began racing multiple distances in the track and road disciplines of cycling. [1] 

Taylor turned pro in 1896, at the age of 18. He was a sprinter, and competed in a national racing circuit. In 1898 and 1899, he set numerous world records in race distances ranging from the quarter-mile (0.4 km) to the two-mile (3.2 km).

Taylor won the 1-mile sprint event at the 1899 world track championships at the Vélodrome de Queen’s Park in Montreal, Canada, and became the first Black cycling world champion and the second Black athlete to win a world championship in any sport (following Canadian boxer George Dixon, 1890). He raced in the U.S., Europe and Australasia from 1901 to 1904.  After a 2 1/2-year hiatus, he made a comeback in 1907–1909, before retiring at age 32 to his home in Worcester, MA, in 1910.

Throughout his career, Taylor challenged racial prejudice on and off the track and became a role model for minorities. Several cycling clubs, trails, and events in the U.S. have been named in his honor, including the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Philadelphia.  The MTCC Philly was formed in 2015 and consists of cyclists of all different levels who wish to represent the spirit of Major Taylor.[2]  The Breakthrough is inspired by Major Taylor’s excellence, dedication, and perseverance. 

[1] Wikipedia contributors, "Major Taylor," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Major_Taylor&oldid=1071078536 (accessed February 16, 2022).

[2] https://www.phillymtcc.org/about/