Major Taylor, holding his daughter, talks to the press in Paris in 1907.

High School Unit Enhances Major Taylor Curriculum Guide

Champions to Dedicate Major Taylor Statue

Major Taylor Bike on Display ... and more news

Major Taylor in today's media

    Image for the ages

October 2011

Contacts: Lynne Tolman,, 508-831-0301
Arnold Pulda,, 508-755-6916


High school history unit expands free lesson plans on African-American trailblazer

     WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Major Taylor Association, Inc., is pleased to announce that its free curriculum guide has been expanded. The lessons about trailblazing black athlete Marshall W. “Major” Taylor, 1899 world cycling champion, now include a five-day history unit for Grades 9-12.

     Originally developed in 2002 for Grades 3-4, the Major Taylor curriculum guide was expanded in 2005 for Grades 5-8. The new component for high school classes was developed by Arnold Pulda, who teaches history, law and government at University Park Campus School in Worcester. Mr. Pulda has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

     “The story of Major Taylor is an exciting, engaging slice of history that will entertain as well as educate,” Mr. Pulda said. “The lesson plans can be used individually or in combination: Let the teachers and students decide. Chances are that they will ask for more, not less.”

     Using a range of classroom activities, the curriculum unit introduces students to a genuine American sports pioneer in the context of larger issues such as Jim Crow segregation and the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson, said Howard Lurie, associate director of educational productions at WGBH Boston.

     “I expect that many teachers and students will significantly benefit from these materials,” said Mr. Lurie, who worked with Mr. Pulda on curriculum development for the Library of Congress, including a lesson plan on baseball player Jackie Robinson, and on “We Shall Remain,” a multimedia project on Native Americans for the award-winning PBS series “American Experience.” “My only regret is that I am now too old to attend a class taught by Dr. Pulda,” Mr. Lurie said.

     The Major Taylor guide fits the curriculum frameworks of the Massachusetts Department of Education. The free downloads have been accessed by teachers in more than 25 states. Mr. Pulda will pilot the new unit in his classroom this fall, and teachers anywhere may use it at any time.

     The curriculum takes a close look at Major Taylor’s superstar status and the times he lived in, focusing on the racial prejudices that marked Major Taylor’s athletic career, how the champion reacted to the closed doors and open hostility he faced on and off the bike, and how his experiences might guide athletes and others today.

     The 44-page curriculum kit, which includes a resource list for further reading, can be downloaded in three PDF segments at no charge from Teachers also may request a free classroom poster of Major Taylor by contacting

     “We’re thrilled that professional educators in Worcester, where Major Taylor lived most of his life, have taken the initiative to bring his legacy to the next generation,” said Lynne Tolman, president of the Major Taylor Association, which put up a statue of Major Taylor in Worcester in 2008. Retired Worcester teachers Virginia Walsh and Janet Dufault wrote the Grades 3-4 and Grades 5-8 segments of the curriculum guide.

     “Major Taylor broke through the ‘color line’ a decade before boxer Jack Johnson and half a century before ballplayer Jackie Robinson. We can learn a lot by looking at the forces in society and the personal traits that played into that,” Ms. Tolman said. “These curriculum materials provide an excellent basis for students, teachers, parents and communities to understand how our history unfolded.”

     For more information about Major Taylor, click here.

February 2008

Contact: Lynne Tolman,, 508-831-0301


Greg LeMond, Edwin Moses will be featured speakers
at May 21 unveiling

     WORCESTER, Mass. -- Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and three-time Olympic medalist Edwin Moses will be featured speakers at the public unveiling of the Major Taylor memorial from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Worcester Public Library.

     LeMond, who won a world championship in cycling 90 years after Major Taylor did, and Moses, who dominated the 400-meter hurdles in track and field for a decade, were each named "Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year" at the height of their athletic careers in the 1980s.

     The statue of the "Worcester Whirlwind" created by sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez is Worcester's first monument to an African-American. The dedication ceremony will be followed by a reception with refreshments in the library's Banx Room.

     Preceding the noontime ceremony, the Seven Hills Wheelmen and the Charles River Wheelmen's Wednesday Wheelers will lead a 30-mile bicycle ride starting and ending at the library.

     At 7 p.m. at the library, the Clark University History Department and Higgins School of Humanities will present a panel discussion on "Race, Sports, and Major Taylor's Legacy." Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson will be moderator for these scholars, historians and authors exploring diversity in sports and society, then and now:

  • Andrew Ritchie, author of the biography "Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer" (1988)

  • Janette T. Greenwood, associate professor of history at Clark University, author of a case study of Worcester County's black community in the late 1800s and of "Bittersweet Legacy," on the emergence and interaction of the black and white middle class

  • David V. Herlihy, author of "Bicycle: The History" (2004), with research on Major Taylor's popularity abroad

  • C. Keith Harrison, associate professor of sports business management at the University of Central Florida, and associate director of the Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport

         For more information about the events of May 21, visit the Events page at

    June 2006

    Contact: Lynne Tolman,, 508-831-0301


    $205,000 from state completes fund drive

         WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Major Taylor Association, Inc., is pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Legislature has approved $205,000 for the Major Taylor statue to be built outside the Worcester Public Library. Gov. Mitt Romney signed the legislation into law June 24.

         Combined with more than $70,000 raised from the private sector, the state appropriation essentially completes the fund drive for the project and will allow the selected sculptor, Antonio Tobias Mendez, to begin work on the monument honoring 1899 world cycling champion Marshall W. “Major” Taylor, also known as the “Worcester Whirlwind.”

         State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, Rep. John J. Binienda, D-Worcester, Rep. James B. Leary, D-Worcester, and Rep. Byron Rushing, D-Boston, were instrumental in securing the legislation containing the Major Taylor statue funding.

         Rep. Binienda said, “This memorial to a great African-American athlete is long overdue. Had Major Taylor been cycling in 2006, he would have been as well recognized and much-admired as Lance Armstrong.”

          “I am thrilled we were able to secure this funding. This is a huge step forward in building Worcester's first monument honoring an African-American, a true American hero, Major Taylor,” Sen. Chandler said.

         “This is a great victory for telling a complete history of the city of Worcester and of the Commonwealth. The Major Taylor statue will pay tribute to an Afro American athlete who overcame many obstacles to become a world champion in bicycling. This memorial will help educate many more people about this extraordinary man's contribution,” said Rep. Rushing, who directed the Museum of Afro American History before he entered the Legislature.

         “Massachusetts can take great pride in Major Taylor’s story, and we’re grateful to the community leaders who recognized that a monument here is fitting,” said Lynne Tolman, a board member of the nonprofit Major Taylor Association. “This state played an exemplary role in allowing Major Taylor’s talent to flourish when others drew ‘the color line.’ ”

         Major Taylor, an Indiana native who lived in Worcester, Mass., most of his life, overcame prejudice on and off his bike to become the first internationally acclaimed African-American sports superstar. He met closed doors and open hostility with remarkable dignity, earning admiration not only for his athletic achievements but also for his strength of character. He was the second black world champion athlete in any sport (the first was bantamweight boxer George Dixon in 1891). Taylor held seven world records in 1898, won the world 1-mile bicycling championship in 1899, and was American sprint champion in 1900.

         For more information about Major Taylor and the statue, visit

    March 2000

    Contact: Lynne Tolman
    (508) 831-0301

    Sculptor selected to memorialize forgotten black hero

    Toby Mendez
    Photo courtesy of
    Worcester Telegram & Gazette

    Antonio Tobias "Toby" Mendez of Knoxville, Md., has been selected by the Major Taylor Association to create a monument to 1899 world bicycling champion Marshall W. "Major" Taylor in Worcester, Mass.

    Mendez' design for the statue, to be erected at the Worcester Public Library in Salem Square, features a two-sided sculpture wall, 10 feet high and 13 feet, 8 inches wide, serving as a wind break for the library entrance and anchoring an outdoor plaza suited for reflection and contemplation. One side of the wall will be inscribed with text explaining Major Taylor's life story, under a 5-foot-by-10-foot bronze bas relief sculpture of track bike racers in action. The other side will feature a larger-than-life, three-dimensional figure of Major Taylor, with his bicycle in high relief, in front of a velodrome portrayed in bas relief. The contrast between the three-dimensional human figure and the relief elements is intended to prompt the viewer "to focus on the athlete as a man," the artist says, as well as to protect the intricate bicycle element from damage. The circle in stone on the ground will be inscribed with words from Taylor's autobiography.

    Mendez holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. His works include bronze panels at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.; "A Tribute to the Oyster Tonger" at Annmarie Gardens in Calvert County, Md.; the state of Maryland's Thurgood Marshall Memorial (1996) in Annapolis; monuments to Nolan Ryan and Tom Vandergriff (1997) at the Texas Rangers Baseball Club in Arlington, Texas; and "The Warwick Quahogger, A Day's Catch" (1998) at the Warwick Public Library in Rhode Island.

    Mendez was among some 60 artists to apply for the Major Taylor statue commission. An Artist Selection Committee narrowed the field to five finalists and ultimately recommended the Mendez design. Pictures of the design are online.

    A $250,000 fund-raising campaign for the statue has begun, with approximately $50,000 in pledges and donations raised to date. The statue is to be erected at the south entrance of the library, which is undergoing renovations and expansion and is slated to reopen in 2001.

    Major Taylor, an Indiana native who lived in Worcester, Mass., most of his life, overcame prejudice on and off his bike to become the first internationally acclaimed African-American sports superstar. He was second black world champion athlete in any sport (the first was bantamweight boxer George Dixon in 1891). Taylor held seven world records in 1898, won the world 1-mile bicycling championship in 1899, and was American sprint champion in 1900.

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