Jim Fitzgerald Presents the Life of Major Taylor for CIBA Lecture Series

Biking is fast becoming a popular sport in Indianapolis, thanks to the sunshine, warm weather, and increasingly good condition of Indy‘s biking paths, including the in-progress Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The Circle City wouldn’t be quite so friendly to bikers without the continued presence of several cycling organizations that strive to keep two wheels on the pavement at all times. Among these is the Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA), an Indianapolis non-profit organization that hosts rides (like the Hilly Hundred and HOOTS), participates in advocacy for bikers, and brings in guest speakers. Among the many speakers that speak as part of the CIBA schedule are those that participate in the Central Indiana Bicycling Association Lecture Series. One final bonus lecture remains in this year’s CIBA lecture series: that of author Jim Fitzpatrick. Jim Fitzpatrick is a non-fiction writer whose book, Major Taylor in Australia, attempts to cover the life of famous cycling champion Marshall “Major” Taylor, whose cycling skills made him World Champion even in the face of rampant racism. Hear Jim Fitzpatrick speak at the Indianapolis Central Library on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 to learn more about one of the world’s greatest cyclists.

Video of a short vignette on the YES Network about cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor; Jim Fitzpatrick will be giving a presentation on Taylor in Indianapolis

Marshall “Major” Taylor was born in rural Indiana in 1878. When he was twelve, he and his family moved to Chicago, where Taylor got his first bike. He quickly learned to perform tricks on it, and before long Taylor also had his first job: doing tricks in front of a bike shop for $6 a week. He wore a soldier’s outfit during these performances, hence earning the nickname “Major.” Major Taylor won his first race at the age of 13 at an amateur match in Indianapolis, and it wasn’t long before he started winning bigger pots. At the age of 16, Taylor won his first major match near Indianapolis, but he won it “amid the racial threats of his white competitors.” Since he was black, Taylor was banned from bike racing in Indiana once he started to gain some fame.


WNBC-TV video segment on the life of Marshall “Major” Taylor in 2007; Jim Fitzpatrick will be giving a presentation on Taylor in Indianapolis

In 1896, Major Taylor started racing on the professional circuit at the age of 18, quickly making a name for himself as “the most formidable racer in America.” Known as the “Worcester Whirlwind,” (Taylor relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts after being banned from the Hoosier State) Taylor held seven world records by 1898, and he had placed first in 29 of the 49 races he had run. In 1899, he broke seven world records in one six week period, and he became only the second African American to win a world championship in any sport. Taylor was also the world sprint champion in 1899 and 1900. Throughout the early 20th century, Taylor toured in Europe since he was banned from competition in the United States.

Video of a Mooresville Public Library (in Mooresville, Indiana) book preview for a biography on Marshall “Major” Taylor; Jim Fitzpatrick will be giving a lecture on Taylor in Indianapolis

Throughout it all, Taylor endured much racial hate and barriers to his success. He was excluded from membership in the League of American Wheelmen, and competing bikers often worked together to bring Taylor down. Nails were tossed in front of his wheels, ice water was thrown at him, and rival racers boxed him in to prevent his last minute sprints. He even records being tackled and choked by another racer in his autobiography; the choker received a $50 fine and nothing more. Taylor retired from professional racing in 1910, claiming he was “tired of the racism.”

Video of a dedication ceremony for a monument in honor of Marshall “Major” Taylor in his hometown of Worcester, MA; Jim Fitzgerald will be giving a presentation on Taylor in Indianapolis

Jim Fitzpatrick is the author of Major Taylor in Australia, a non-fiction book published by Star Hill Studio that details Taylor’s rise to the championship and his battles with racism. Fitzpatrick’s research was the basis for the 1992 straight to television movie, Tracks of Glory. The film, which aired on the Disney channel in Australia during Black History Month, won an Australian Logie Award (the Australian equivalent of an Emmy) for “Most Popular Telemovie” and Cameron Daddo won another Logie for “Most Popular Actor in a Telemovie.” Fitzpatrick’s presentation at the Indianapolis Central Library will provide illustrated commentary on the story of Marshall “Major” Taylor.
If you’re interested in cycling, history, or the history of cycling, the final bonus lecture of the Central Indiana Bicycling Association Lecture Series could be right down your bike lane. Featuring author Jim Fitzpatrick, this illustrated lecture will take Indianapolis people through the life and times of Marshall “Major” Taylor, detailing his accomplishments in the both the world of cycling and the world of civil rights. This Indianapolis event will take place at the Indianapolis Central Library in downtown Indianapolis Wednesday, June 15, 2011 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Jim Fitzpatrick’s presentation for the CIBA Lecture Series is absolutely free, so head out to the Central Library to bone up on your Indianapolis history on Wednesday.

Central Indiana Bicycling Association Lecture Series Presents Jim Fitzgerald
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tickets: FREE
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Indianapolis Central Library

40 E St Clair St
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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