Submitted by Jon Freeman

You know about Jackie Robinson breaking the racial barrier in baseball – but have you ever heard of a man named Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor? He was the Jackie Robinson of world class competitive cycling. He broke the color barrier in cycling in the late 1800s, decades before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947. He is one of the best professional athletes you have probably never heard of. Major Taylor is a man who many people don’t know about today, but he should be remembered as one of America’s first black sports heroes. He is a sports figure who should be remembered as a great world class cyclist and person who broke through the color barrier in a major sport.

Major Taylor began racing professionally, in the late 1800s, when he was 18 years old. In the late 1800s competitive cycling was the most popular sport in America. Major Taylor was a black man who broke racial barriers by becoming the world’s fastest and most famous bicyclist at the height of the Jim Crow era. He faced racism and was able to overcome obstacles to become a world cycling champion and was one of the most chronicled black men in the United States at the turn of the century. By the age of 26 Taylor had 7 world records, and he ended up retiring at the age of 32. To read more about the groundbreaking but forgotten athlete Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, and what investigative journalist and author Michael Kranish reveals about Taylor in his book, feel free to check out a copy of The World’s Fastest Man.