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Marshall “Major” Taylor (1878-1932) was a Black American cyclist who was one of the greatest bicyclists of his era, setting numerous world records and winning a World Championship and multiple national championships, as well as establishing numerous world records. He was an international superstar whose superhuman exploits were as well-known in his era as LeBron James or Michael Jordan are today. Despite his many laudable achievements, he battled overt racism and prejudice throughout his career and lifetime.

In 1928, Taylor published an autobiography titled The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The Story of a Colored Boy's Indomitable Courage and Success Against Great Odds. Born in 1878 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Taylor retired in 1910 at age 32. In his autobiography, he cited the mental strain of battling racism in competitive cycling as one reason for his retirement. Later in life, he was forced into poverty and eventually died of a heart attack in 1932 in Chicago. 

In recent years, efforts have been made to revive Taylor’s story and introduce it to younger generations. In addition to the Major Taylor Program at Cascade Bicycle Club, Taylor’s name is now celebrated with memorials and historic markers, such as The Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis and Major Taylor Boulevard in Worcester, Massachusetts. His story has also been celebrated in film, including a recent ESPN short, “The Six Day Race: The Story of Marshall 'Major' Taylor.” 

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