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Major Taylor Biography at a Glance

By Lynne Tolman

Major Taylor with his wife, Daisy, and daughter, Sydney.November 26, 1878 - Marshall W. Taylor is born in rural Indiana to a black couple who moved north from Kentucky around the time of the Civil War.

1886-1891 - Taylor is raised and educated in the home of a wealthy white Indianapolis family that employs his father as coachman. The family gives him a bicycle.

1892 - Taylor is hired to perform cycling stunts outside an Indianapolis bike shop. His costume is soldier's uniform, which earns him the nickname "Major." He wins his first bike race that year.

Fall 1895 - Taylor moves to Worcester, Mass., with his employer and racing manager Louis "Birdie" Munger, who plans to open a bike factory there.

August 1896 - Taylor unofficially breaks two world track records, for paced and un-paced 1-mile rides, in Indianapolis. But his feat offends white sensibilities and he is banned from Indy's Capital City track.

December 1896 - Taylor finishes eighth in his first professional race, a six-day endurance event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

1898 - Taylor holds seven world records, including the 1-mile paced standing start (1:41.4).

August 10, 1899 - Taylor wins the world 1-mile championship in Montreal, defeating Boston rival Tom Butler. Taylor is the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon's title fights in 1890-91.

November 15, 1899 - Taylor knocks the 1-mile record down to 1:19.

September 1900 - Thwarted in previous seasons by racism, Taylor finally gets to complete the national championship series and becomes American sprint champion.

October 1900 - January 1901 - Taylor performs in a vaudeville act with Charles "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy, racing on rollers on theater stages across Massachusetts.

March - June 1901 - Taylor competes in Europe, which he had long resisted because his Baptist beliefs precluded racing on Sundays. He beats every European champion.

March 21, 1902 - Taylor marries Daisy V. Morris in Ansonia, Conn.

1902-1904 - Taylor races all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, with brief rests in Worcester.

1907 - Taylor makes a brief comeback after a two-year hiatus.

1910 - Taylor retires from racing at age 32. Over the next two decades, unsuccessful business ventures and illness sap his fortune.

1930 - Impoverished and estranged from his wife, Taylor drives to Chicago, stays at the YMCA and tries to sell copies of his self-published 1928 autobiography, "The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World."

June 21, 1932 - Taylor dies at age 53 in the charity ward of Cook County Hospital, Chicago, and is buried in an unmarked grave.

May 23, 1948 - A group of former pro bike racers, with money donated by Schwinn Bicycle Co. owner Frank Schwinn, has Taylor's remains exhumed and reburied in a more prominent part of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Illinois.

WORCESTER, Mass. - Curriculum kits for lessons about trailblazing black athlete Marshall W. "Major" Taylor, 1899 world cycling champion, are available free to schoolteachers and youth group leaders. You visit the
Major Taylor Association website to learn more.

For more information, contact Lynne Tolman or (508) 831-0301

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