Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (1878-1932) was an American cyclist and athletic superstar at a time when cycling was more popular than professional baseball.
Major Taylor, also known as the “Worcester Whirlwind,” won the world championship in 1899 and established seven world records during his career including sprinting a mile in one minute and 41 seconds (with an average speed of 35 mph). The record stood for 28 years. He was the second African American to win a world championship and was the first international Black sports superstar.
Taylor was dubbed “the fastest man in the world” but had to battle the unrelenting racial bigotry of Jim Crow segregation that prevented him from competing. His perseverance and tenacity were matched only by his prowess on wheels.
The monument in Worcester, next to the main library, pays homage to the city’s adopted son and his legacy of remarkable accomplishments in the face of tremendous social headwinds.