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Cycling through History

Posted on Feb 24, 2016 by in The OFI Blog |


Taylor, nicknamed the Black Cyclone, pushed the boundaries not only in sports, but also in people’s minds.

Have you ever heard the name of Marshall “Major” Taylor? An outstanding sportsman, the first African-American world champion, whose achievements are comparable to those of Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali, had his fame undeservedly obscured and lost from the history books.

A former National Museum of American History (NMAH) intern Noelle Alvey wrote an article which shed light on his incredible life story. Taylor was the fastest cyclist of his times, who set numerous records in the period between 1895 and 1908. His amazing accomplishments, even more so in view of the racial discrimination context of that bygone era, have been waiting to be rediscovered.

Alvey, at the time a graduate at Tufts University, MA, delved in the sports memorabilia collections of NMAH and studied the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) sets of various images and international magazine covers in order to reconstruct the historical integrity.

To read the original article – the result of Alvey’s dedicated work – please visit the NMAH official blog.