The list of trailblazing African Americans in athletics is long, and while the achievements of many competitors of color —like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson and Bill Russell— are well documented and celebrated today, others have fallen into obscurity. One such athlete is Major Taylor, cycling’s first Black World Champion and one of the world’s first Black sports superstars.
A new film titled Whirlwind aims to return Major Taylor to the spotlight by celebrating his trailblazing life and lasting influence. A True Underdog Story
Born Marshall Walter Taylor in Indiana in 1878, just 13 years after the Civil War, Major Taylor was an African-American track cyclist who overcame significant racial prejudice as a Black cyclist in a white-dominated sport to become one of the greatest track cyclists of all time.
Known as the “Worcester Whirlwind,” Taylor was a straight-up superstar who was one the highest-paid athletes of his era, won both national and world championships, and held numerous world records —including the standing start one-mile world record of 1:41 that stood for 28 years.
And yet, when Cyrille Vincent —creator, executive producer and director of Whirlwind — came across the Major Taylor memorial outside the Worcester Public Library and connected it with a street near his home, Major Taylor Boulevard, he, like many others, assumed the road was named after a military veteran.
With surprise, he discovered the namesake’s true identity and the more Vincent learned about Major Taylor, the more he recognized a story that needed telling. Vincent found it “surprising this story […]
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