Worcester Cyclist Major Taylor Was A Top Black Athlete In A Country That Tried To Stop Him Competing

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Major Taylor (Courtesy: Major Taylor Collection Indiana State Museum)
Major Taylor (Courtesy: Major Taylor Collection Indiana State Museum)

Marshall Walter "Mayor" Taylor, who lived most of his life in Worcester, was crowned the fastest man in the world in 1899. He was also one of the most widely acclaimed athletes in the United States, both of which he accomplished at the height of the Jim Crow Era — nearly 50 years before Jackie Robinson first stepped out on the field of the all-white Brooklyn Dodgers' baseball team.

Taylor's story is chronicled in new book out from journalist Michael Kranish, “The World’s Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero.”

Kranish will be speaking at Porter Square Books on May 8 at 7 p.m. and at the Boston Public Library on May 9 at 6 p.m. 


Michael Kranish, reporter for the Washington Post and former Boston Globe correspondent. He tweets @postkranish.

This segment aired on May 8, 2019.

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