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Major Taylor Education Program Launched

Monday, February 28th, 2011 by Mick Allan

Major "Marshall" TaylorThe Major Taylor Education Program was launched recently at the Trail Blazers Boys and Girls Club in Portland Oregon by a group of individuals and organizations headed by Roger Mallette of Retro.

”Retro and its partners recognize that cycle racing is not highly accessible to Black American youth and holds a vision to create connections to coaching and competitive racing in Portland.”

The program will seek to identify 6-10 kids showing interest in competitive cycling. Participating boys and girls will be ushered into the coaching camps of B.I.K.E. and Kirk Whiteman Coaching.

In addition the program aims to generate more awareness of not only Taylor’s luminous career but also his ideals and values concerning hard work and perseverance.

The Major Taylor Education Program will focus on the uncanny career in cycle racing that Taylor triumphed in:

In 1896 at age 18, Marshall “Major” Taylor emerged as “the most formidable racer in America,” earning up to $15,000 per race.

At age 20, he set seven world records. At 21, he was the first black World Champion in Montreal, and the American Sprint Champion that year and the next.

Taylor was only the second African American World Champion of any universal sport.

After one of the most successful athletic careers the world had ever seen, Taylor’s last days were spent living in a YMCA in Chicago where he died a pauper in 1932.  Taylor was reburied in Glenview Cemetery, Chicago in 1948 with funds provided by Frank Schwinn of the Schwinn Bicycle Company.

These words mark his grave:

“World champion bicycle racer who came up the hard way without hatred in his heart, an honest, courageous, and god-fearing, clean-living, gentlemanly athlete. A credit to his race who always gave out his best.  Gone but not forgotten.”

marshall-major-taylor-1908-paris

Retro’s Major Taylor Education Program was first launched in Chicago in 2007/2008 in Chicago Public Schools after a friendship was formed with Courtney Bishop of Team Major Taylor and the Team Major Taylor Scholarship Fund.  Retro’s primary partners were Mayor Richard M. Daley, Simon Schuster, and Courtney Bishop and Team Major Taylor of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Roger Mallette, Retro’s Founder, recently approached Tim Sicocan, Director of the ‘Trail Blazers’ Boys and Girls Club , John Bennenate, Director of B.I.K.E ., Kirk Whiteman of Kirk Whiteman Coaching and River City Bicycles. Kirk Whiteman is one of the United States’ greatest cycling sprint champions. John Benenate founded (B.I.K.E.) Bicycles and Ideas for Kids Empowerment.  B.I.K.E. is an inner city cycling team supported by a dedicated group of volunteers that nurture up to speed, faces missing from the sport and has been serving the Portland Community for over 16 years raising 74 Oregon State Cycling Champions. B.I.K.E. coached the first all black women’s cycling team to race in the little 500 at IU in Bloomington Indiana. Oprah Winfrey presented Mr. Benenate a $100,000 award from her Angel Network for his work with B.I.K.E.

Major Taylor program poster

Read more about Roger and Retro here,

and a Bike Culture review of a Taylor biography by Andrew Ritchie here.


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One Response to “Major Taylor Education Program Launched”

  1. Eldon says:

    Oo, very interesting, more African American kids cycling competitively can only be a good thing :)