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3rd Annual Major Taylor International Cycling Convention

CONGRESSMAN JONATHAN JACKSON (Center) is pictured with other cyclists participating in the annual bike ride, which took off today from Major Taylor Village, 3701 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. (photo by Marcus Robinson)

U.S. Representative Jonathan L. Jackson rides with the Major Taylor International Cycling Alliance

Before Michael Jordan became a globally recognized sports icon, Marshall “Major” Taylor had already pedaled his way into history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Major Taylor, an extraordinary cyclist, achieved greatness in his sport despite facing severe racial discrimination. He remains a celebrated figure in the cycling world.

This year, the Major Taylor International Cycling Alliance (MTICA) is proud to host the 3rd Annual Major Taylor International Cycling Convention. The event will feature U.S. Representative Jonathan L. Jackson, an avid cyclist, who will join the MTICA to kick off this significant celebration.

Event Details: The convention will span three days, filled with cycling, music, art, and cultural activities in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood.

  • Friday: The event will begin with 15- and 30-mile warm-up rides, including a route on the Major Taylor Trail, culminating in a tour of Bronzeville.
  • Saturday: The main event will offer 100-mile, metric 62-mile, and half-metric 32-mile cycling route options. The longer routes will include a visit to Major Taylor’s gravesite. Seminar sessions will provide valuable educational and health and wellness resources. U.S. Representative Jonathan L. Jackson will participate in the festivities from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Major Taylor Village. The day will conclude with a gala at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.
  • Sunday: The weekend will wrap up with a Sunday Recovery Ride, available at both casual and spirited speeds.

Honoring Major Taylor

Born on November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, IN, Major Taylor showed a remarkable talent for cycling from a young age. He began his professional career in the late 1800s, a time when the sport was gaining popularity in Europe and the United States. Mentored by Louis “Birdie” de Franklin Munger, a white champion cyclist, Taylor persisted despite facing significant racial threats and obstacles. Forced to compete primarily outside the U.S., Taylor broke numerous world records and achieved unparalleled success in various cycling disciplines.

Taylor was known not only for his athletic prowess but also for his impeccable sportsmanship and advocacy for equality. His autobiography, “The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World,” published in 1901, remains an essential historical document that sheds light on the experiences of African Americans in sports during that era. He was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1989.

Congressional Medal Act

In recognition of Major Taylor’s contributions and legacy, U.S. Representatives Jonathan L. Jackson (D-IL-01) and Jim Baird (R-IN-04) have introduced the bipartisan Marshall “Major” Taylor Congressional Gold Medal Act. This legislation aims to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Taylor, acknowledging him as America’s first Black sports star and a trailblazing athlete of immense significance.

Taylor’s remarkable achievements came despite the extreme racial adversity of the Jim Crow era. He endured exclusion attempts, verbal and physical abuse, and yet he rose to become the first African American world champion in any sport, earning the title of the “world’s fastest man.” His talent and determination drew massive crowds to races in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

“It is without question that Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor was a man before his time, a stellar athlete, a leader in the field of cycling, and a trailblazer,” said Rep. Jackson. “I believe it is fitting that Congress award the ‘world’s fastest man’ one of our nation’s most prestigious honors.”

“Even when compared to today’s athletes, Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor is among the greatest cyclists of all time,” said Rep. Baird. “His accomplishments are especially impressive considering the challenges he faced on his climb to cycling greatness. Marshall Taylor is one of the greatest athletes in Indiana history, and I can think of no one better suited to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“Marshall W. ‘Major’ Taylor challenged both the odds and the adversity of his time with dignity and determination, and he went on to ultimately triumph,” said Karen Brown Donovan, the great-granddaughter of Major Taylor. “The awarding of a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal would be a significant achievement towards honoring his life and legacy.”

Join us in celebrating the legacy of Major Taylor and supporting the efforts to honor his remarkable contributions to the world of sports and beyond.

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