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Major Taylor

World Cycling Champion



Candlewick Press

(pub. 9.12.2023)

48 pages

Ages 7-10

Author: Charles R Smith Jr.

and Illustrator: Leo Espinosa

Character: Marshall "Major" Taylor


" One hundred years ago, one of the most popular spectator sports was bicycle racing, and the man to beat was Marshall 'Major' Taylor, who set records in his teens and won his first world championship by age twenty.

The first African American world champion in cycling and the second Black athlete to win a world championship in any sport, Major Taylor faced down challenge after challenge, not least the grueling Six-Day Race, a test of speed, strength, and endurance."

Tantalizing taste:

"When the other racers saw

the color of your face,

they taunted you

and threatened you

to drive you from the race.

But you pedaled on, Major,

and you didn't quit,

and when the rain came

only you finished it.

So keep riding, Major,

keep riding, don't quit.

Now, just like then,

keep pedaling, finish it."

And something more: Charles R Smith Jr. , in the Author's Note explains that "As a pro, Major won races and set countless records along the way. Many of the white racers tried to hurt him on the track due to his skin color, but Marshall adopted racing tactics to avoid harm and emerge victorious. He would stay at the back until the last lap, then put on a quick burst of speed to sprint ahead for the victory. This racing style made him a fan favorite."


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