“I was blown away by this story of triumph over adversity. I’d never heard of it before.” 🚴🏿
Do you know the story of Major Marshall W Taylor? Taylor fought racism to become the first ever Black American cycling champion.
Born in Indianapolis in 1878, Taylor worked in a bicycle shop where he performed bicycle tricks in military style costume. This earned him the name ‘Major’.
At just 15, he beat a one-mile amateur track record in cycling. But in the Jim Crow era of strict racial segregation, he had to fight racism just to get to the start line. Racist opposition constantly threatened him and slowed his progress. But he didn’t give up.
Taylor quickly established himself as a world-class cyclist, achieving seven world records. And in 1899, Taylor became the first African American to become a cycling world champion.
Inspired by the extraordinary life of Major Marshall W Taylor, Glasgow based Creative Producer Jim Muotune created two illustrated boards depicting Taylor’s career.
“I was blown away by this story of triumph over adversity. I’d never heard of it before. Why has this story of someone, whose grandparents were slaves who rose to become the fastest man in the world not influenced a generation?
“I’m not a cyclist, but I do cycle. Cycling is part of the small changes we can make to help the planet – it would be good to see more people take it up." Jim Muotune for Glasgow Live
Jim Muotune’s illustrations were displayed on National Cycle Network Route 7 in Glasgow during Black History Month 2021, and were also shown at COP26. They were one of eight pieces displayed along National Cycle Network routes that celebrate notable Black people from Scotland's history, and beyond.
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