Marshall W. Taylor: November 26, 1878 – June 28, 1932
Despite segregation and racial discrimination at the turn of the last century, Marshall W. “Major” Taylor became the first African American world champion when he won the 1 mile track cycling championship in 1899. Only second to Canadian boxer George Dixon in Black world champions, the skilled cyclist had been honing his riding skills since he was a child, winning his first cycling competition at 13 in his native Indiana.
As he continued to rake in titles, it wasn’t long before the young athlete earned the nicknamed “The Black Cyclone” and even made a fan out of then-president Theodore Roosevelt. Today, Major’s legacy lives on as he is known as the fastest cyclist in history, having set seven world records. In 2008, a two-sided statue was erected of the legend in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Marshall spent a large portion of his life until he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he died in 1932.