Major Taylor champion cyclist

10:06 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

How did a thirteen year old black boy in 1891 come to be such a crackerjack cyclist--or even to own a bicycle? In Major Taylor, Champion Cyclist, Lesa Cline-Ransome brings us a wonderful picture book biography on Marshall Taylor, a thirteen year old who dreamed of being a professional cyclist.

Marshall, at the age of eight, had been hired as the live-in companion for a prominent Southard family's only son. It was then that Marshall was introduced to the bicycle that would change his life. In no time, Marshall became the top cyclist in the neighborhood and got a job at a neighborhood bicycle shop. Marshall had taught himself a collection of tricks riding on the long stretches of country road between his newspaper stops. Because of it, the bicycle shop owners had Marshall perform for their customers. The owners outfitted Marshall in a uniform and the crowd would marvel, "He looks like a little major!" At thirteen, Marshall Taylor had won his first race. His talent grew as fast as his popularity and he turned pro at age eighteen. But cities like Louisville, St. Louis, and even Indianapolis wouldn't permit a black man on their tracks. That didn't stop Marshall. As the only Negro granted membership in the League of American Wheelmen, he was entitled to compete on any track he chose.

Major Taylor overcame many obstacles, including white racers "boxing him out," and he eventually won the 1899 World Championship title. This is a fascinating story to commemorate a lesser known African American who went on to represent his country overseas. Just as the name Lance Armstrong is associated with cycling today, Major Taylor was known as the Flying Negro in the 1800's. The illustrations capture the will and determination of a man who loved the feel of the wind whipping against his face and drew national attention to the sport of racing.

Additional Information:
Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrator: James E. Ransome
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books (December 30, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0689831595
ISBN-13: 978-0689831591

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  1. Doret said...

    I just checked this out from the library yesterday.